Displaying items by tag: Virgin Mobile UAE

Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company PJSC, the parent company of “du” and “Virgin Mobile UAE”, published its financial results for the quarter ended 30 September 2017, showing a 4 percent growth in net profit after royalty to AED 476 million.

Revenue was “stable” according to EITC chief executive officer, Osman Sultan, at AED 3.13 billion, compared to AED 3.14 billion in Q3 2016, as the company “invests in adjacent business areas to transition to its next phase of growth.”

“We continue to see pressure on mobile rates, with mobile revenue decreasing 3.3 percent to AED 2.30 billion,” said Mr. Sultan. “We remain on track with our strategy of attracting higher quality customers and are pleased to report that the post-paid segment increased 14 percent in Q3 2017 compared to the same period last year.”

Mr. Sultan added, “EBITDA was AED 1.33 billion in Q3 2017, compared to AED 1.38 billion for the same period last year, showing a decline year on year as the company invests in adjacent business areas to transition to its next phase of growth.”

Mr. Sultan highlighted the launch of Virgin Mobile UAE as an exciting milestone of Q3 for EITC. “Featuring an innovative, all-digital platform, Virgin Mobile is ushering a new era of connectivity and simplicity for our customers, while also reinventing the traditional telecom business to a more efficient and lower cost base operating model,” he said.

As the company looks towards a “smart future”, Mr. Sultan said EITC is investing in pushing forward its digital transformation agenda and driving the company to its next phase of growth as a fully integrated ICT player.

“Our increased reliance on the IoT has fundamentally changed the way people interact and we therefore must change the way we do business,” he said. “To this end, we announced a significant change in our organizational structure with the creation of three new business divisions to support EITC’s growth.”

Mr. Sultan added, “The newly formed ICT Solutions division will provide UAE government entities and enterprises with advanced end-to-end ICT infrastructure and services; the Digital Lifestyle and Innovation division will be focused on the development of innovative products and services for UAE consumers, including smart home services, and the Infrastructure division will consolidate all infrastructure, network and data center operations under the EITC umbrella.”

As part of the new organizational model, Mr. Sultan announced the nominations of Fahad Al Hassawi and Farid Faraidooni as Deputy CEOs, each with oversight and mandate on specific areas. “I have the upmost confidence that together we will successfully drive EITC’s transformation agenda and allow expansion into new areas of growth,” he said.

Published in Finance

Virgin Mobile UAE’s ‘customer-centric’ approach

Written on Wednesday, 13 September 2017 09:55

Virgin Mobile UAE’s mobile plans are “totally customer-centric” said Product Manager Juraj Cangar speaking at the brand’s Design District HQ in Dubai on September 6. Customers can have their SIM card delivered to them “within an hour”, personalize their monthly mobile plan, and choose their own phone number, all via an in-house built app.

The fully app-based mobile service is part of Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (EITC), the parent company of ‘du’. Both Virgin Mobile UAE and du will share EITC’s telecom network, allowing for Virgin Mobile to “focus more on customer experience and innovation rather than worrying about infrastructure,” said Managing Director Karim Benkirane.

Virgin Mobile UAE is unique in the sense that it doesn’t require customers to visit a physical store. Everything to do with your mobile plan is done through the app that was built by the Virgin Mobile UAE team. To join, you can simply download the app, register your details, and then choose your monthly plan (data package, international calling, international roaming, etc).

The best aspect of the app-based service is that you can edit your mobile package every month to suit your needs. For example, if you set your data plan at 1GB per month and realize it’s not enough, you can change it to 2GB (or higher/lower) for the next month. It’s important to note, though, that changes made to a plan won’t be implemented until the current plan has finished after 30 days.

Payment for the mobile package is made via credit card. Then, you must state whether you’re a visitor or a resident. This is a breakthrough feature for tourists coming to the UAE. Etisalat and du require Emirates identification to start a mobile plan which is often inconvenient for new arrivals to the UAE and tourists who want to temporarily use a local mobile network to make calls and use data.

If you’re a Virgin Mobile UAE customer and planning to travel abroad, you can pause your plan until you get back, rather than paying for a whole month’s worth of unused service. You can also customize your roaming package by selecting the country you plan to visit and choosing your package. What’s great is that the roaming package won’t begin until you start using the service in that country.

Another interesting feature Virgin Mobile UAE introduced is the ability to choose your own mobile number without having to visit a store. Following market research, the team discovered that “in the UAE people want to have their own personalized number,” said Mr. Cangar. “You can also bring your own number to Virgin Mobile. You don’t have to fill out any papers – just go through the app, find the number, and it’s yours,” he said.

Once you’ve registered your mobile plan (residents must scan a copy of their Emirates ID), your SIM card will be delivered directly to you. Virgin Mobile UAE partnered with ride-hailing firm Careem and trained some drivers to deliver the SIM cards. Drivers have an app that scans the customer’s information and then activates their SIM card. All Virgin Mobile UAE SIM cards are the same until a customer’s mobile plan is uploaded.

The Virgin Mobile UAE app can be downloaded via Google Play and Apple App Store. For now, the brand is focussing on Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah, Mr. Benkirane said, and because it’s such a new service, he couldn’t offer any details about user numbers at this stage. Ultimately, the emergence of Virgin Mobile’s new service is an exciting step forward for the UAE as it continues to adopt a more digital and data-centric approach.

Published in Telecom Operators

How can telcos navigate the digital revolution?

Written on Wednesday, 13 September 2017 08:42

Telecom providers face tough times as digitization disrupts traditional business models. In fact, the telecom industry is ranked second after media as most likely to experience major digital disruption, according to a 2015 survey of C-level executives from 15 industries. EITC, the parent company of ‘du’, has responded to the disruption of digitization by embracing it, launching a fully digital mobile service.

Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (EITC) officially launched the Virgin Mobile brand in the United Arab Emirates on September 5. It’s the first fully digital mobile service launched in the country. The new service offers “simple and transparent technology” and a “unique customer experience” through what the company describes as a fully app-based service.

The Virgin Mobile UAE app signifies a paradigm shift in the mobile industry, digitally designed to simplify life for customers, and the Virgin Mobile distribution model allows customers to download the app and have the SIM card delivered directly to their homes or office. The digital experience gives customers flexibility and convenience, putting control of mobile services back into the customer’s hands.

EITC’s move to create a fully digital service shows that digitization is not just a threat, but also an opportunity for operators to rebuild their market positions, revamp their business systems, and come up with innovative offerings for both existing and new customers. The growth of digital business and the Internet of Things (IoT), according to Gartner research, will drive large investment in IT operations management through 2020.

If telecom operators were to fully embrace digitization, advisory firm McKinsey calculates that it could improve their profits by as much as 35 percent. One of the ways in which telecom operators can bridge the digital gap, according to a McKinsey report, is to drastically revamp IT services. The firm said: “For most operators, streamlining their application landscape and automating their IT infrastructure will need to be a priority.”

Complex and out-of-date IT applications are a “major hindrance” in competing against digital rivals, McKinsey says. The company conducted a study of 80 telecom companies around the world and found that the most successful ones had “removed redundant platforms, automated core processes, and consolidated overlapping capabilities.” Following this method allowed one South American telecom provider to free up the equivalent of 31 percent of its full-time employees.

Another recommended approach by McKinsey, seemingly adopted by EITC with the launch of its new digital mobile service, is putting customers’ needs first and then working backwards by implementing services to meet those needs. Telecom providers need to focus on the customer’s entire experience of the company, rather than seeing customers as a series of touch-points, the report suggests.

The goal is not to digitize multiple elements of a customer’s experience but to deliver a “superior customer experience” with everything gelled into a seamless journey that flows across functions, channels and devices, and where the biggest pain points are identified and eliminated. It’s important for telecom operators to make use of digital technologies across the whole business to “combat declining growth, shrinking margins, and intensifying competition.”

EITC achieved this in the UAE by allowing customers to pick their mobile number without visiting a store, track their data and minute usage in real time, search and choose their favourite mobile number, and set up monthly spend limits, all via the Virgin Mobile UAE app. The subscription-based model means that there is no need for a contract, giving customers the flexibility to decide how they want to communicate without being constrained by specific time bound terms and conditions. 

A $2 trillion opportunity

The digital transformation of telecom companies is so lucrative, that a report by the World Economic Forum says it represents a $2 trillion opportunity for the industry. The next decade of digitization will look markedly different from the past, the report says, and companies across the industry will need to be “well-prepared” to take advantage of the “sweeping transformation taking place in consumer lives, enterprises and the broader economy.”

The 2017 report, titled ‘Digital Transformation Initiative Telecommunications Industry’, looks at the untapped potential for telcos in digital services. The industry has recognized the opportunity that digital services represent, but the players haven’t been able to capture significant value at the scale and speed of digital disruptors, the report says. This is despite the fact that telecom operators have access to several key ingredients, including millions of customer relationships and proprietary data.

Majority of companies have yet to overcome key inhibitors around talent, legacy IT systems and unfavorable regulation, the report adds, in order to compete effectively against digital native companies. Operators’ share of the industry profit pool has declined from 58 percent in 2010 to 47 percent in 2015, and is forecast to drop to 45 percent in 2018. Pressure on traditional revenues, the report claims, means that it’s increasingly important for operators to look at new digital business models.

Another report by AT Kearney says more than 80 percent of telecom executives from South Asia, Middle East and Africa (SAMENA) believe their future success and growth depends on making fundamental changes to their business and operating models. The report, based on a recent survey of C-level executives from the region’s leading telecom companies, highlights the importance of mastering customer retention and customer base value management to sustain returns.

In terms of new consumer revenue sources, less than one quarter of executives believe that content or digital services will be important, according to the report. For the enterprise segment, though, more than 80 percent of executives believe ICT-related revenue will increase, with the largest potential expected in mobility, cloud, and data center services.

Simultaneously, to sustain competitiveness, telecom operators will continue focusing on operational efficiency, in AT Kearney’s view, although commercial-related costs will be less under scrutiny. The key driver, the report says, is the understanding that significant investments are needed to bring commercial operations into the digital age with upgrades to the customer experience, such as support online sales, self-service via apps, etc.

“Telecom operators in the region are considering a wide range of changes to their operating model,” said Marc Biosca, Partner at AT Kearney. “The customer is at the epicenter of this strategy as most operators and executives in the region believe that a differentiated and superior customer experience is a top priority for long-term success. Providing a seamless customer experience across interfaces has never been more key.”

If there’s one consistent element throughout the reports by AT Kearney, McKinsey, and World Economic Forum, it’s that customers come first and demand digital services that are engaging and convenient. Customers today require an interface that’s simple to use across all channels, and desire efficient 24/7 service. Yet many operators struggle to meet these expectations due to slow design processes, ineffective data collection, and out-of-date IT systems.

To overcome these barriers, McKinsey points out, is to invest in effective customer-relationship-management systems to “track customers’ digital footprints, reduce costs, boost customer satisfaction, and improve brand advocacy and differentiation.”

Published in Reports

Etisalat to launch youth SIM in response to Virgin Mobile UAE

Written on Monday, 11 September 2017 10:54

Etisalat is launching a new youth-targeted SIM in the UAE called Swyp in an apparent effort to compete with the launch of the Virgin Mobile brand by du’s parent company EITC. The Swyp prepaid mobile service hasn’t officially launched yet, but the brand’s website is up and running and the apps have been uploaded to the app stores.

In an interesting twist, the Swyp service will only be available for customers aged between 15 and 29 at the time of subscribing and must present a valid Emirates ID card for proof of age. It seems Abu Dhabi-based Etisalat is eager to attract millennial mobile users who might be tempted to join Virgin Mobile UAE due to its flexible payment structure.

Etisalat’s Swyp service offers 5GB of social data for AED 50 per month and users can purchase add-on packages such as 500MB of data for AED 25, 1GB of data for AED 50, 2GB of data for AED 100, 4GB of data for AED 150, and 1GB Instagram and Snapchat package for AED 12. So far the service has been advertized on social media sites that attract youth such as Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat.

Swyp SIMs will be delivered directly to millennials who sign up, or they can be purchased from one of Etisalat’s stores at Dubai Mall, Downtown, Burj Dubai, Mall of the Emirates, Burjuman, City Centre Deira, Festival, City Mall, Ibn Battuta and Mercato Shopping Mall. Virgin Mobile UAE SIMs can also be delivered directly to customers after purchase “within an hour”, according to Product Manager Juraj Cangar.

Virgin Mobile UAE is unique in the sense that it doesn't require customers to visit a physical store. Everything to do with your mobile plan is done through the app that was built by the Virgin Mobile UAE team. To join, you can simply download the app, register your details, and then choose your monthly plan.

Vodafone UK also recently launched a youth-focused service called VOXI, a mobile offering for people aged 25 and under, that enables them to “use their phones the way they want to,” the company said. The VOXI SIM, available from 8 September, lets users indulge in selected social and chat apps (Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp, Pinterest, Snapchat, Twitter and Viber) as much as they like, without affecting their data allowance.

Similarly, Etisalat’s Swyp offering targets data over voice calls to attract youth who live their lives through social media. The Swyp SIM card charges 0.6 fils per second for local voice calls, 18 fils per local SMS, 60 fils per international SMS, 45 fils per local MMS of 50KB, and AED 1.80 for international MMS of 50KB.

Published in Telecom Operators