Huawei offers telecoms operators SMS and voice lifeline

The inTouch Lab partnership programme is an initiative designed to bring telecoms operators and content providers together to offer content, applications and tailored services to users.

The Chinese telecoms vendor Huawei is launching a platform and hosting centre to help save the region’s telecoms operators from diminishing voice and SMS revenues.

The inTouch Lab partnership programme is an initiative designed to bring telecoms operators and content providers together to offer content, applications and tailored services to users.

For the past few years mobile operators have complained of over-the-top (OTT) players like YouTube and WhatsApp eating into their revenues. They have struggled to maintain voice revenues as users prefer to communicate via applications like Facebook and Viber.

These content providers make use of the mobile operator’s networks and infrastructure without investing or paying for it.

“OTT players are offering most of the services now that the telcos used to offer in an elusive manner and they’re offering it through a different business model,” said Osman Sultan, the chief executive at du. “There is still the need for connectivity and telcos are monetising growth in data usage, but there is a need to balance the equation when there is a need in putting more investment in infrastructure for things like video content and gaming.”

Huawei’s role in the initiative is to act as a broker between the operators and the content developers while also providing billing services and the servers required to support the inTouch programme.

“Operators do not have to create all the services themselves. Developers can use those capabilities [networks and connectivity] to create new services,” said Mac Taylor, the chief consultant of digital services at Huawei. “By enabling others to make use of networks, we can create a whole new ecosystem of games and content.”

Huawei is currently in talks with 30 telecoms operators in the region and has already partnered up with games developers Anghami, Rockville, MT2 and GamePower7 to launch its own gaming portal called Wakti, which means “my time” in Arabic.

The portal aggregates games from all over the world and offers them to users in the region. Once the telcos sign up to the inTouch programme, the Wakti portal will be preloaded onto smartphones before they are sold in stores. By having the gaming portal preinstalled, operators can sell the phone with a data package or bundle dedicated to gaming.

“We are creating a relationship between games providers and operators. We also provide the analytics, recommendations, easiness of paying and the distribution to get the games to the end users,” said Mr Taylor.

The company has begun with a gaming portal thanks to its popularity in the region. Some 30 to 40 per cent of all apps downloaded in the region are games.

Huawei plans to launch more portals in the future including music, health, communications and education.

“These portals give developers a way to register and build applications and partner with operators,” said Luis Borges Quina, a co-founder of Apidaze, an app development company based in Paris. “It allows developers to create new services on the web or mobile. We see there is interest in the region, maybe more than in other regions.”

The Middle East and Africa gaming sector is worth US$260 million with 100 million players.

thamid@thenational.ae

Follow us on Twitter @Ind_Insights

Published: May 22, 2014 04:00 AM

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