The maximum predicted penetration for 3G mobile services will be 25 per cent of the total users in the Middle East region, according to Bashar Dahabra, founder and CEO of Info2Cell.
He said that the current penetration of the 3G mobile services in the Middle East is less than one per cent of the total mobile users due to the severe shortage in 3G content and services.
“When we studied sales of mobiles in the region, we noticed that only 25 per cent are high-end mobiles which can handle 3G information services, so the expected penetration will be 25 per cent of the total users.
“Currently, we do not have the suitable content for 3G services so users cannot benefit from the available services on their mobiles. The IT sector in the Middle East is the fastest growing in the world, while services are far behind available abilities.
“Info2Cell is focusing this year to create proper information content for 3G mobile users in the region. We are cooperating with 30 mobile operators in the region and this created the need for such services.
We have plans to offer 3G services for our four main sectors including news alerts, sports, entertainment and Islamic content,” he added.
“We are planning to offer news alerts with short video clips of different events, through our own production team or through feeds from news agencies. We also plan to offer analyses of stock markets in the region. Currently mobile users can get direct information about movements in stock markets but with the 3G system we will also offer them commentaries on stocks movements by financial analysts.”
Concerning mobile banking services, Dahabra said that such services are expanding very fast in the region. He continued: “We have contracts with some banks to offer alert information for banks’ clients. We offer only alerts about any movements in clients’ accounts such as salary transfer, deposits, withdrawals and credit card services. This helps the banks’ clients to monitor their accounts and avoid any hardships such as credit card loss.”
However, Dahabra said that the maximum expected penetration for 3G services in the region would reach 25 per cent of the total mobile users because offering 3G services is a complicated process. “For example, we have long negotiations with sports clubs to get rights for transmitting clips from matches and goals. This is expensive and accordingly the services will be expensive,” he said.
“Also, mobile operators in the Middle East will need to install hardware and software that can provide 3G services. We have a severe shortage in IT and telecommunication specialists in the region. Five years ago, there were ten mobile operators in the whole region, but this number jumped to 30 in five years and this created deep pressure on the manpower for both operators and IT services providers such as Info2Cell,”he added.
Dahabra explained that one IT engineer needs five years for education and training so there is a large gap between the outcome of education systems in the region and the needs of the labour market.
“I have in Info2Cell 85 employees, while with expansions and new services we are planning to offer, the company will need a total manpower of 150 specialists in different departments including installation, programming, animation, marketing and administration.
“All mobile operators and IT services providers in the Middle East are suffering from this shortage. There is high unemployment rates in the region, but companies need the right manpower for its operations.”
About 25 per cent 3G penetration in Middle East