AMMAN, JORDAN: Middle East telecom operators were caught off guard by over-the-top players and remain unprepared to take on the challenge that they present, according to Nayla Khawam, CEO, Orange Jordan.
Speaking during a panel discussion at the Arab Advisors’ Convergence Summit in Amman, Jordan, Khawam said that “no-one was ready for the surge” in OTT players. “Even though regional business is still not as highly affected as Europe and North America, it changed the way business is done,” she said.
“On one side we have smartphones. In Jordan around two or three years ago, very few subscribers used smartphones, now they are significantly present in the market. Next came OTT which completely changed our business. We are not very ready to deal with OTT today. Even though it hasn’t affected us as much as in Europe and America, it still made its presence felt,” she added.
She said that technology has accelerated and morphed into different form-factors, and telcos lack the "agility" to cope. “I come from fixed-line, and it took 50 years before seeing the openess of mobile. Mobile took 20 years. As things progressed smartphones came in, and now suddenly you had three years of the spread and prominence of social networks. This acceleration shows that all our approaches were not very compliant with agility, but this is something we have to deal with. This is the future. In Europe it’s worse than what’s happening regionally. No telco is agile today.”
Khawam also advised that content is constantly evolving and that operators must prepare themselves for the next boom. “We say there is no room for voice, the main thing is we have a social network boom here in the region and everywhere in the world it’s a big thing. Three years ago, we all said that content will be the future, but what we are seeing of the content now was very different from what we expected. The important thing is to keep moving forward and prepare ourselves for the next big thing. It’s not the network in question now, it’s about the user. How we can deal with people.”
The Arab Advisors’ Convergence Summit started today in Amman, and runs for two days.