Challenges such as strong competition and OTT services are hitting operators’ revenues, causing them to grow new verticals in order to expand their revenue streams and remain profitable. Viva Bahrain, like many other operators, is focused on its business services as an area of operations that can still deliver results.
Ulaiyan Al Wetaid, CEO at VIVA Bahrain, pointed out that the operator is already in advance stages of providing business services to the health sector and utility providers, and is also offering various business applications for the corporate market.
“It is obvious that there is potential in a lot of verticals and different regions have different opportunities. I think the region has a lot opportunities in the health sector, banking and finance, education and utilities, for example in the services related to electricity, water and also oil and gas,” Al Wetaid commented.
He believes that the consumer side of the business is highly saturated, but there are other areas of growth for operators in the region, which can be a step up for expanding reach to new markets.
“These tendencies [offering business services] help local operators to go beyond their borders and it positions them as major and global operators,” he said.
In order to establish the business services vertical, Viva Bahrain is following a multiyear plan. “I think that operators have to start. It is going to be Viva Bahrain’s main focus in the next years,” Al Wetaid said.
When offering better services to business, Al Wetaid noted the importance of fixed line as it helps to provide a higher quality of communications to corporates and business user. He also stressed that home automation will be a step forward where operators will have more opportunities. Viva Bahrain is already working on automated houses, as a part of the company’s services roadmap.
In this area, Viva Bahrain announced in April a partnership with BT to build a Global IP Exchange (GIPX) interoperability hub in the Gulf nation. IP Exchange is an interoperability service that enables fixed, mobile, legacy and next-generation networks to interconnect and is employed as a means to minimise the cost and complexity of protocol conversion. Such exchanges are targeted at operators that want to deliver connectivity between voice-over-IP operators, traditional communications providers, and converged service providers.
“The hub is scheduled for launch in the first quarter of 2015 and it will enable business opportunities across the region. This will maximise business potential, cost efficiency for all Other Licensed Operators (OLOs) in the Kingdom, and assist operators in growing their value added services,” Al Wetaid commented.
He noted that it will be the fourth GIPX in the world. “There is one in Miami, another one in London and in Singapore. The fourth is Bahrain and this will bring to the region and Viva the next generation of services and it will enable crossboarder integration between providers.”
Al Wetaid said that LTE is one of the main services that the GIPX will offer to operators in the Gulf region.