Orange Jordan, the nation’s second largest cellco by subscribers, is planning to invest more than JOD300 million (USD421.86 million) between 2015 and 2018 with JOD200 million to be spent on fixed and mobile network infrastructure, the company’s CEO, Jean-Francois Thomas, said in an interview with CommsMEA. ‘There is a growing demand for data in Jordan, where more than half of the population own smartphones,’ the official added, noting ‘Telecos need to invest in networks to accommodate the growth in data demand; therefore, focusing on providing quality service is a main drive to increase telcos’ growth.’ Mr Thomas pointed out, however, that the government’s practice of setting a high asking price for spectrum and levying substantial taxes on the sector limited the investment potential of operators.
Commenting on the 4G space, the CEO explained that he had changed his mind regarding the market’s readiness for the new technology: ‘Initially, I thought that it was too early for Jordan to start selling frequencies and starting rolling out the network.’ With rival operator Zain rolling out infrastructure, however, Orange was forced to forge ahead with its own 4G deployment. Mr Thomas noted that the penetration of 4G devices in Jordan is only around 6%-7%, but claimed that there is an interest in the new platform. In an effort to foster that interest, and encourage take-up, the cellco has begun offering 4G-enabled smartphones for JOD85 and is running 4G promotions.
Elsewhere, the CEO commented that over-the-top (OTT) providers should be seen as a boon to network operators, as their services drive growth by encouraging data usage – especially in the case of video apps. An adversarial approach only serves to delay a solution, the official explained: ‘The regulation that some countries are adopting when blocking them [OTT providers], is just slowing the process, because at the end of the day we need to find a solution. We are impacted, because the traditional SMS business was eaten by WhatsApp and the voice services by Skype, for example. We are [now] offering bundles with voice, SMS and data … [and] we have stopped counting the minute by the minute or SMS by SMS.’