interview


Ross Cormak, CEO, Nawras

Ross Cormak, CEO, Nawras

Telecoms.com caught up with Ross Cormak, CEO of Omani operator Nawras at the recent GSM>3G Middle East Telco World Summit in Dubai.

What are the main points you will be making in your presentation?

With this new license we will be able to provide a one stop solution to all customers whether corporate, SME or residential. We will also be able to bundle these fixed and mobile services to meet different customer needs. There is a vast unquenched desire for broadband in the Sultanate so over the next few years we foresee a similar growth as we have seen in mobile. Because we shall be utilising WiMAX fixed wireless technology we shall have the flexibility to quickly focus our service availability to meet customers’ fast changing needs.

We are building an extensive broadband backbone network which will take us close to most businesses and all new residential developments in the Sultanate which is critical for providing broadband capacity. Our own international gateway with our own international cables will enable us to provide capacity and choice of quality as well as unique, new value added services.

How is the global recession affecting the Middle East telecoms market?

It appears that the impact of the global slowdown on the telecom market in the Middle East has varied with different countries. I am delighted to say that in the Sultanate of Oman, the impact has been limited. This is due in part to the Government taking bold and inspired steps to ensure the continued growth of the economy including maintaining investment levels for new infrastructure and large scale development projects. Also, with a high ratio of nationals and largely unaffected expatriates, there has been little change in terms of population migration. Finally, as telecommunication has become a basic need, the usage pattern of our customers has not altered to any large extent as they continue to use Nawras to get closer in good times as well as in those less rosy times.

On November 3, local press reported that International Monetary Fund experts had hailed the economic policies adopted by the Sultanate which provided financial ability and helped in the implementation of the development programmes in all fields.

What effect are the first MVNOs to launch having on the region’s mobile market?

Two resellers launched early this year and their initial target has been the expatriate community from South East Asia and to a lesser extent, the youth market. Nawras had already successfully launched Shababiah a year ago to serve the latter segment and with the Sultanate’s mobile penetration already above 100 per cent, the impact of the resellers is seen mainly as an increase in use of multi SIMs. In October, Nawras signed two reseller agreements with Mazoon and Samatel respectively, in what was described as a win-win situation for the newcomers using the reliable Nawras Network.

Nawras continues to see its customer base growing at a very healthy rate and benefits from the knock-on effects of increased advertising and promotional activities attracting greater interest and bringing more attention to mobile services.

With so many Middle East markets exceeding 100 per cent mobile penetration, where do you see future growth opportunities?

Being the first operator in Oman to launch mobile broadband, Nawras has experienced a fast growth in this area during 2009.  Data services together with related content and community services continue to grow rapidly.  The key is to identify the new services that will enhance a customer’s utilisation of mobile technology through a pleasingly different service.  The ability to segment the market and tailor attractive offers is paramount to continue growing value when most of the market is already connected.

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