Literacy key for enhancing broadband industry | Pakistan Today

Literacy key for enhancing broadband industry

In an exclusive interview with Profit, Qubee CEO Mubashir Naqvi said that to kick off the broadband revolution the government can boost the industry and the overall economy by encouraging e-governance and deregulating the financial system to allow more transaction capability to users. Once the users realise the full potential of internet, the entire commercial landscape can change within a short span of time, as businesses and their consumers interact at a closer level. This will open up a much larger market for smaller enterprises and big businesses as well to reach their consumers in a more direct manner. An example can be the online payment mechanism with top up capabilities everywhere and ability to transfer online in real time.
Similarly, making the education system more technology-oriented at the grass root level will allow for students to have a more collaborative and bi-directional academic experience, and this will increase the use of broadband at almost a utility level for most students, he added.
He informed that as per the regulations of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), the current number of subscribers for Qubee are around 55 thousand, and it is to be noted that it currently has the second highest number of daily adds (addition of subscribers to the network) in the WiMax market.
Growth of broadband in Pakistan
To a question he said growth of broadband has been extraordinary with almost 150 per cent AGR over the last 3 years, and the market is still young and it is online content which is helping the market size increase every day. As far as the response from the market to broadband is concerned, it is very positive and promising, as wireless broadband in Pakistan has really changed the perception of broadband and ever since 2007 the growth has been in triple figures with number of subscribers doubling every year since, he added.
Talking about the role of Qubee, he said that Qubee’s mission is “Broadband for All”, and for that matter it has lived up to the promise and delivered maximum value to the subscriber ever since services were launched in 2007. “Our packages have been the best in terms of value in the WiMax arena and devices are the best in class. Qubee has given the concept of an affordable reliable internet service which is easy to acquire, use and pay,” he added.
He further said that with our various promotions and ‘reach-out-to-the-user’ model, we have given broadband availability to so many users who were getting unprofessional services at almost the same cost, and we have launched entry level packages for users new to the broadband experience which are not heavy on the pocket and also introduced Prepay Broadband in Pakistan – which is the first of its kind in the country.
Challenges to broadband expansion
When asked about the issues and challenges faced by the broadband industry, he said by virtue of being a developing country certain impediments to broadband growth in Pakistan are inherent and among the issues are low literacy, low PC penetration, lack of local content, high bandwidth cost by Pakistani standards, and duties on customer premises equipments and regulations. The government is not aligning basic civic goals such as education and healthcare with the broadband policy to do away with some of the hindrances, he added.
Qubee’s investment and role in innovative marketing
He informed that Qubee has invested $75 million directly since its inception. “Our investment in Pakistan is on an ongoing basis and we are still investing in our network improvement and system enhancements constantly.
With regards to Qubee’s role in introducing new ways of marketing and brand activation, he stated that as a consumer oriented broadband service provider we believe in focusing our messages, campaigns, promotions and products seamlessly to our prospective as well as existing users. “Moreover, the internet consumer of today is very much aware of the brands offering broadband services as well as their prices and products, however, from experience we have learned that campaigns with simple yet relatable approaches deliver higher ROIs,” he added.
He further says that although this might be true for most of the product categories in the country but in the case of broadband this theory goes a step further, as it also includes initial product trial and experience, meaning whether it’s a brand activation targeting conversion or awareness. Qubee always strive to deliver a tangible product experience, either at its outlets or on its mobile touch points or even through the day-to-day consumer intercepts.
‘We don’t believe that we have invented a new dimension of brand activations but what we do try and hone is a creative approach to consumer contacts, where the consumer gains with a relatively memorable brand experience. Lastly, as internet is a youth driven category, we also aim to channel our communication plans towards media that reaches our audience with best possible impression ratios,’ he said.
Competition among market players
To a question he observed that the broadband market in Pakistan is tough and exciting to be in, and with a host of operators in every technology e.g. DSL, Wimax, Evdo etc. all operators are eyeing primarily on the huge consumer market potential. The market is huge with every kind of user, from seldom email checkers to rich media downloaders, while each user group is willing to pay for the kind of services he is looking for, whether it is speed, data, and portability. “All operators are grabbing a share of each segment they can serve, while on the basic level it’s all about the operator who provides the best service and customer care,” he said.
He said Qubee’s packages are designed while keeping in view of giving extra to the customer. That could be more volume at a certain price point. In terms of technology, with WiMax being the base platform, Qubee devices are best in its class with the latest chipsets and reception technologies, and we always stay one step ahead of other WiMax operators in giving more to our subscribers in small tokens as extra volume for on time payment or free subscription for a month if they pay in advance, he said.
Future of industry
He anticipated that broadband will reach economies of scale in the next 5 years, though not becoming equal to GSM. As social media content, IP based services such as Skype and online commerce become popular; more people will be using broadband services on a frequent basis, he said, adding that this coupled with new consumer devices like tablets will incline people to stay connected at more places. Thus, we will see broadband becoming common in more cities.
Strategy for expansion
When asked what strategy and business model the WiMax and broadband operators should follow to expand their network in the far-fetched areas of the country, he said that broadband must reach all nooks and corners of Pakistan. As far as the strategy for broadband and especially WiMax operators is concerned, unless the cost elements such as CPE and transmission are lowered, the proposition of operating in small towns and villages is not feasible, he asserted.

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