CAIRO: “Connect the unconnected was the theme behind Motorola’s Future Technology Seminar, conducted in conjunction with partner Mobinil, announcing a joint expansion of the GSM network to serve remote areas and improve service quality.
The expansion project will cover Cairo, the Delta, Alexandria, and the North Coast to add three million new subscribers.
Against a backdrop of purple lighting, hip advertising and loud music, Motorola representatives spoke of gaining “the next billion customers globally, who will mostly be remote and impoverished customers, on top of its current two billion count.
Motorola and Mobinil have also offered joint packages in their “Innovative Bundle, selling to 300,000 new users of low-tiered phones so far, starting at $30.
Thomas Quirke, global director of marketing, explained how their phones would be marketed to and feasible for the new class of customers, many of whom, Quirke says “have never used a telephone before. He says the effort must be conducted jointly with increased infrastructure.
One innovation would be increased reliance on alternative energy sources, such as solar, wind, and green energy.
Quirke told The Daily Star Egypt that in some parts of the world, one entrepreneur in a village purchases what becomes a shared phone, which is passed along from one person to another. He added that local sourcing for phone production would reduce costs and eliminate unnecessary features, such as -20° phone protection.
To attract more attention in a personal way, Quirke told The Daily Star Egypt that Motorola buses have gone into some Egyptian villages showing and using phones.
Amr El-Shamy, Motorola’s regional sales manager, added that there would be no significant change in strategy of using traditional media to market to remote areas. He told The Daily Star Egypt that 50 percent of the low-tier market was from Upper Egypt and that the current strategy has proven successful.
El-Shamy also spoke of enhancements to its upper-tier phones and services. While still in its regulatory stages, Motorola representative Noel Kirkaldy told The Daily Star Egypt that he expected WiMax to be available in Egypt within 2007.
WiMax is part of Motorola’s “seamless mobility concept, a wireless service with much greater range and speed, a technology, Quirke said, that was driven out of this part of the world, beginning in Pakistan.
Also highlighted at the event were the latest Motorola features, mostly available elsewhere in the region but yet to come to Egypt. One such feature was the “M-Wallet, a feature which would allow its customers to replace credit cards, loyalty cards, bill payments, and airline tickets with their electronic substitutes, among other conveniences.
Another convenient feature is phone backup, allowing customers to save all their phone content on the network in case of loss.
Though representatives would not disclose specific Egyptian data, Motorola’s sales in 2005 globally reached $35.3. Mobinil is Egypt’s leading network provider, with 9 million subscribers to date. Naguib Sawiris is chairman for Mobinil, and owns Motorola, spawning a long and close relationship between the two companies.