Ooredoo: We need to be anything but typical

NICE, France--Ooredoo is an operator that faces a set of unusual challenges because of the diversity of the mostly developing markets in which it is present, and it has learned to deal with such challenges by not assuming that "one size fits all" in every market.

"We need to be anything but typical," Cynthia Gordon, chief digital services officer at the Qatar-based operator said during a keynote session at the TM Forum Live conference here on Tuesday. "We have to act as a change agent in our markets."

Gordon, who brings considerable experience to Ooredoo thanks to her previous positions at Orange and Russian operator MTS, said the operator's newest challenge is in Myanmar, where it plans to roll out mobile services later this year in competition with Telenor.

"Myanmar is the next telecoms frontier," she said, noting that mobile penetration is currently just 10 per cent of a population of around 60 million. However, since there has been no census in Myanmar for 10 years, the population could, in fact, be much higher.

"You cannot take anything for granted in that country," said Gordon.

Indeed, Gordon said Ooredoo has been forced to take unusual measures to deploy its network there, such as using oxen to carry equipment, while new solutions such as community hubs have to be considered for charging mobile phones because of the limited electricity coverage.

Ooredoo is certainly used to dealing with challenging markets in the Middle East and Africa. While the company has major programmes that are common across all of its markets, such as a focus on data leadership and B2B, and is also gradually rolling out the Ooredoo brand across its footprint, Gordon said experience has shown that finding local solutions and employees is by far the best approach.

"We place an emphasis on finding local talent," she said, noting that this includes finding a local CEO.

The company motto is to get people online wherever they are, regardless of what their ARPU is. "One size fits all does not work at all," Gordon added.

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