The Business Year

Emre Gurkan

CEO, touch

Imad Kreidieh

Chairman & Director General, Ogero

Necessary investment has finally seen growth and development in Lebanon’s telecoms sector, ideally setting the stage for even more investment in infrastructure and digitalization.

What strategy have you followed to become a leading mobile telecommunications and data operator in Lebanon, and how will you maintain this position?

EMRE GURKAN Our strategy is to maintain our leadership position in several areas, including customer centricity, customized products and services, and international digital innovation. We ended 2017 with an all-time high customer market share of approximately 54%. In addition to this, 4G customers grew by 2.15 times in the past 12 months to 743,000 active customers. Data consumption per customer increased by 39% versus last year reaching 1.19GBs per customer per month. We have been working closely with the Ministry of Telecommunications to maintain growth across key financial indicators. touch teams are continuously working on network enhancement via ongoing LTE rollout and 3G enhancement. We also introduced our Student Plan, a full digital value proposition and experience that now has more than 69,000 activations.

IMAD KREIDIEH Our objective is to put Ogero on the regional telecommunications map. we Want Ogero to be a proactive organization that enables growth and pushes the boundaries of innovation. We want the company to stimulate strong growth in both its own sector and on the level of the national economy. We have done this by starting with the maintenance of our existing infrastructure. We have one of the newest infrastructures in the region. In parallel, we are building a new fiber-based infrastructure in order to tackle the issues that have created a gap between internet users in cities and those living in rural areas. There is a huge disparity in the quality of service in these two areas. This is why we decided to disrupt the stagnation and grow the network across technologies and across the nation. The government concurred with our vision, underwriting the project to the tune of USD300 million in order to initiate a four-year project aimed at fiberizing all cities and villages in the country. We are anticipating that before the end of 2018 we will have a number of rural communities fiberized.

What is the current state of Lebanon’s telecom infrastructure, and what investments are needed to improve it?

EG Lebanon’s mobile telecom infrastructure has evolved substantially in the last couple of years, with the introduction of 4G, which has changed customer behavior radically. We are working on expanding 4G coverage further while optimizing 3G. We work closely with the Ministry of Telecommunications, which is fully aware of the importance of ensuring 4G and 3G continue to function optimally. Moreover, the rollout of fiber to the home (FTTH) in Lebanon will ensure the availability of fiber connectivity for each site located on rooftop buildings, which will improve the backhaul speed and latency. These enhancements will catalyze the implementation of advanced site coordination features, cloud baseband solutions, and distributed architecture.

IK Digitalizing is paving the way for a revolution of the economy. We will not limit ourselves to internet, but we will provide mobile networks the infrastructure they need to deploy 5G networks and an Internet of Things (IoT) platform. We are the cornerstone of the tender documents for the national data center as well. This project will be the first project financed under the PPP plan. Now, the tender being evaluated by the commission and a partnership between the public and private sector is going to be launched in order to materialize the creation of a national data center. It will allow us to offer the services of this center to the entire region. This is important for the country, and we are working to create a direct submarine cable that will link Beirut to Marseilles. This will give us a third route, improving the status of the national data center from tier 3 to tier 2 and enabling this data to be sold to neighboring countries. It will also transform Lebanon into a transmit hub that links the East and the West. Lebanon can be a tempting route for all traffic moving through this region.



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