Ahmed Farroukh, CEO, Mobily: Interview

Ahmed Farroukh, CEO, Mobily

Interview: Ahmed Farroukh

How can mobile operators reduce the burden on the mobile wireless broadband networks created by high data consumers?

AHMED FARROUKH: The mobile wireless broadband, by its nature, is not suited for unlimited data consumption. On the other hand, fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) is perfectly designed for this sort of consumer behaviour. Therefore, we need to shift the high data consuming customers from mobile broadband to fixed broadband such as FTTH. At this stage, applying fair use policy may be a good approach to shift customers from mobile broadband to FTTH and ensure more reliable service.

Mobily has been a leader in migrating data traffic from mobile broadband to fixed broadband. We launched a service that allows customers who subscribe to data services to get hotspot Wi-Fi access in the streets and public areas where there is high data consumption. The data provided through these hotspot Wi-Fi comes from the fibre network, which then allows us to offload the data traffic from the 3G and 4G networks.

What steps should the government take to further encourage ICT development?

FARROUKH: With proper support from the government, ICT can play a transformative role in Saudi Arabia and help contribute to the goals of Vision 2030. Given the right regulatory framework, we will be on our way to having among the highest broadband penetration rates in the G20. What we need is to secure a sufficient number of frequencies to enable further expansion. Therefore, we are waiting for the Communications and Information Technology Commission, the regulator of the Saudi telecoms sector, to assist the sector in this regard. We are also seeking permission for additional infrastructure expansion to support ever increasing demand that is straining the current network.

What unique aspects of the Saudi market make it an attractive industry for investment?

FARROUKH: The Saudi telecoms market’s defining and unique feature is the high amount of data consumed by customers. Studies show that the average Saudi customer consumes 47 GB yearly, compared to 17 GB for the average American customer. Saudis, per capita, are also the highest consumers of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube worldwide.

Having worked in the telecoms industry for over two decades and across multiple continents, I can safely say that the case of Saudi Arabia is exceptional; the consumption of data per day in the Kingdom is higher than what is consumed daily in the entire Chinese mobile market, which is made up of roughly half a billion subscribers.

To what extent are telecoms operators investing in IT offerings and infrastructure?

FARROUKH: The Saudi market is well integrated into the global economy and keeps pace with the latest advances in technology. Mobily launched its own cloud computing services more than four years ago and has seen increasing year-on-year demand for these sorts of hosting services from a wide array of business consumers. Both the public and private sector have been eager to utilise these technologies, which will mean that they can reduce their ICT costs, deliver higher-quality services and dedicate greater focus to their core business.

What potential is there in the future for infrastructure sharing between operators?

FARROUKH: We are trying to apply the share and repair strategy. This strategy aims to share both the infrastructure and investments between operators. This is to manage expenditures more effectively and to repair the market propositions to suit the needs of both the customers and operators.

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Ahmed Farroukh

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The Report: Saudi Arabia 2016

ICT chapter from The Report: Saudi Arabia 2016

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This article is from the ICT chapter of The Report: Saudi Arabia 2016. Explore other chapters from this report.