Etisalat and Batelco to closely track European trends in mobility solutions
While selected travel organizations, particularly hotels, have already launched WLAN hotspots for their customers in the Middle East, service providers have been slow to offer WLAN services in the region, reported IDC.
Of the region's leading service providers, the United Arab Emirates (UAE)'s Etisalat and Bahrain's Batelco are leading the way, with plans to launch commercial WLAN hotspots within the coming months.
Batelco launched a trial WLAN hotspot in an airport lounge during October 2002. The operator is planning expansion of the service in the near future to a few hotels and shopping centers, with a total of four to six visitor-based hotspots planned by early 2004.
Etisalat, on the other hand, is planning to launch commercial WLAN hotspots during the second half of 2003. The operator's ISP unit, Emirates Internet and Multimedia (EIM), is planning to launch between 30 and 50 hotspots, focused primarily on Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Similar to Batelco, Etisalat will also be targeting niche markets with this service, namely the travel sector and shopping centers.
Neither Batelco, nor Etisalat, have yet settled on a final business model for the new service. IDC believes the operators have several revenue models that could be considered for WLAN hotspots. The service provider can offer a revenue-sharing model to the hotspot location owner, lease the location owner's facilities in order to install its own equipment, and thereby keeping most, if not all, of the end-user revenues.
If the hotspot location-owner is using WLAN services as a value-added service for its existing customers, then a possible model would be to have the location owner pay the service provider for the connectivity and installation costs. In this case, the location-owner would be billing and collecting any revenues generated from the end-user. Alternatively, the location owner could use the WLAN hotspot as a complementary service to its existing customer base. Hotels and airport lounges would be the most likely location owners to opt for such a model.
IDC believes service providers or vendors targeting travel organizations with mobile solutions should make sure they partner with the right players and offer a strong ROI proposition in terms of both improved internal efficiency and enhanced customer satisfaction. In the current economic conditions, companies are highly selective when it comes to choosing on which IT projects to invest, and they require strong return-on-investment. — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)