Haitham Asal (Chief Technology Officer, Vimpelcom, Telecel Zimba) will be appearing on Day 1 of the Broadband World Forum as part of a special Think Tank Debate, ‘How can we take a More Holistic Approach to Solve the Mobile Data Challenge?’
Here he discusses the mobile data challenge and more…
Your work with Vimpelcom and Telecel Zimbabwe must give you a uniquely global perspective on the mobile data challenge – what have you been able to take from this?
Before joining Telecel, I was looking after a wide range of markets, including Canada, Italy, Algeria, Egypt, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Burundi, Central Africa, Greece and Tunisia, which exposed me to different market development stages, customer experiences and needs, as well as technology maturities.
Upon joining Telecel, I focused more on the Zimbabwean market and operations but kept blending the various experiences gained from all the operations to see how I could best fulfil customer needs and enhance Telecel’s financials.
I wonder if you could give us some sense of the particular importance the mobile data challenge presents to the African ecosystem?
I would summarize it as a low population density, low grid availability, smart phone penetration and regulations that support mobile broadband pick-up to everyone.
Can you provide some examples of Telecel Zimbabwe’s strategy for dealing with the challenges of mobile data?
Implementing all IP strategy with policy controls for Internet services so as to be able to provide smart value adds to customers, in combination with smart site solutions and alternative energy to decrease backhauling and site utility, resulting in an enhancement on profitability per site. This has to be achieved with smart coverage solutions to decrease the site establishment barrier and increase the data reach for customers.
The Internet in Zimbabwe has seen rapid expansion over recent years – of what recent achievements is Telecel Zimbabwe especially proud?
Telecel has doubled mobile broadband capabilities in the last two years. This enabled Telecel to be able to launch very smart and attractive offerings for their customers, such as Facebook Zero, WhatsApp bundles etc…
What issues are you looking forward to addressing at this year’s BBWF along with other operators?
BBWF provides an excellent opportunity to discuss with all the industry stakeholders how we can support mobile broadband growth. Even if they are not involved in Zimbabwe or Telecel, developing the full mobile broadband ecosystem will benefit all the stakeholders and will enrich the industry.