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Mustafa MuradGulf Satellite Vision

Mustafa Murad, Gulfsat’s Chief operating Officer and Director of Planning & Operations, talks to Intercomms about the company’s regional and international strategy.

Mustafa Murad joined Gulfsat November 2004 as Satellite Operations Manager after previously working at Al Harbi Telecom. In 2005 he was promoted to Satellite planning Manager and appointed Planning & Operations Director and acting COO, in November of this year.

Q: What evidence is there for increased demand for satellite-based services in the Middle-East region?
A:
The main evidence for increased demand is that 80 to 85% of available satellite capacity in the Middle East has already been sold.

Q: How do you distinguish your strategies between your regional, international and local business expansions?
A:
Because we have good exposure to the international satellite business, we have a good understanding of regional market trends. This is coupled with careful analysis of the requirements of our business partners and market needs. Much also depends on the market growth trends in terms of our strategy and infrastructure planning.

Q: What are the metrics for success in the markets you are pursuing?
A:
Since we are following different market sectors, metrics of success are different. But the common metrics can be summarised as follows:

Bullet point   Matching the revenue/costing figures forecasted in the service financial models;
Bullet point   Efficiency in educating the market for the new services;
Bullet point   Sold capacity, number of circuits, number of users; and
Bullet point   Regional market penetration.

Q: Infrastructure can describe a range of equipment that differs in quality, quantity and reliability. How are you ensuring that you obtain a competitive advantage in regards to your infrastructure?
A: We make sure our technical team has the edge and is updated with any new technologies in the satellite market. At the same time, we are closely following development in new markets and the new services provided by other companies in the region. As a result, we are very selective when we introduce any service inside or outside Kuwait. Today we have seven satellite platforms in Kuwait, Germany and Dubai and are also in the process of building our new Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB) platform from the United States.

Q: How important is the Kuwaiti Ministry of Foreign Affairs contract for Gulfsat in providing Internet Service, Data Communication Services, Voice and Video Conferencing services for Kuwaiti embassies in the 63 countries worldwide?
A:
This project positioned Gulfsat as one of the main telecom operators in the Gulf region. Also, by having such a network in place, currently we have the largest ground operator chain in the region. This qualifies us to participate in any major regional communication project.

Q: How important is government business to your strategy?
A:
Government business is the one of the main satellite market sectors we serve in Kuwait. We are also looking to increase the government business contribution share in Gulfsat’s overall business.

Q: How has your selection by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) influenced take up of related services by other Ministries and businesses? Does it show your services meet the demanding international requirements?
A:
As Gulfsat owns the current MOFA satellite platform, connecting all the Kuwaiti embassies and consulates around the world, we are clearly a first satellite company trusted by the Government sector.

Q: What is the status of the TV Uplink project and how does this fit into your overall strategy?
A: As from 1 November, we have one TV uplink on Eurobird 2 (also known as Badr 2 and Noorsat 1). The TV channel (Al Bawadi) uses this platform. A second platform on Nilesat 103 is expected to be live by mid December 2006. In addition, building a carrier class play-out centre is under process and also expected to be ready for Gulfsat TV clients by mid December.

Gulfsat is also providing a video contribution services for TV and video producers in Kuwait to transfer their content to their headquarters as well as to their main uplink stations.

From the strategy point of view, as per our plan for the Kuwaiti market, we are en route to be the prime TV uplinker in Kuwait. Regionally, our target is to position Gulfsat as a one of the main broadcasters in the Gulf region.

For more information, go to www.gulfsat.com

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