SHENZHEN: A period of 10 years passed on the establishment of one of the most successful strategic partnerships between the Middle East telecom innovator, Zain Kuwait, and the Chinese technology giant, Huawei. This relatively short period of time was enough to witness the emergence of both partners as technology leaders in Kuwait and across the Middle East.
While the overall telecommunications technology roadmap has undergone extreme changes and opened up new roads in the past decade, telecommunication companies required experienced technology partners to follow suit along the same lines. During this boom period, Zain has found a true partner for a series of successful agreements and projects culminating in the successful testing of the Middle East’s first 4.5G mobile broadband network.
10 Years of Leadership
During a special ceremony hosted by Huawei in its main headquarters in Shenzhen, China on the occasion of 10 years of successful partnership between Zain and Huawei, Zain Kuwait’s Chief Executive Officer Eaman Al-Roudhan said: “This visit is particularly significant given the tremendous work and achievements we have recorded during our period of close cooperation with Huawei.”
Al-Roudhan – who headed a delegation of Zain Kuwait executives accompanied by Kuwaiti press and analysts – described Zain’s period of partnership with Huawei as “10 years of excellence and leadership.”
Al-Roudhan stressed that this partnership enriched the user experience of Zain’s customers, with the main aim of bringing excellence in the quality of telecom services to meet the needs and aspirations of Zain’s customers. She went on to explain that today’s special ceremony was not just to celebrate the passing of 10 years of successful partnership, but also to celebrate the advances achieved by the telecom sector in Kuwait.
Al-Roudhan highlighted the role Huawei has played in advancing telecom technologies by saying: “Huawei is a global leader, which is one of the main suppliers of ICT systems and solutions.”
The Zain Kuwait CEO also stressed that such a meeting will further enrich the successful partnership that binds the two companies. “This visit will open up a world of opportunities for more joint cooperation between Zain and Huawei. The discussions we are set to hold during this occasion will provide us with a chance to learn more about the latest challenges and advancements that face the telecom and IT industry in the region as well as globally, which will ultimately serve Zain’s strategic vision to transform into a leading digital lifestyle provider.
“Today we aspire for even more collaborations to enrich our strategic vision, through which we aim to strengthen the presence of digital services that will lead to new outlooks and business opportunities in the near future,” Al-Roudhan stressed.
Al-Roudhan also pointed out that Zain’s joint projects and collaborations with Huawei were not limited to just business agreements and achievements, but also extended to Corporate Sustainability and Social Responsibility related projects and achievements, one of which is the Joint Innovation Center launched in 2013, the first of its kind in the Middle East.
Al-Roudhan considers the telecom sector as one of the most important industries, acting as the backbone of any economy, and she pointed to the fact that Zain has succeeded in making a leading country with respect to telecom technology innovation.
“Because our strategic vision is geared towards becoming the most trusted and innovative service provider, and because enriching our customers’ lives has always been our main motivation, we were keen on becoming the “definitive telecommunications destination,” Al-Roudhan commented.
Al-Roudhan highlighted: “This partnership’s significance manifested when Zain launched Kuwait’s first 4G LTE services commercially, making Kuwait one of the first to offer this superior technology. Another milestone was the recent successful testing of the Middle East’s first 4.5G mobile broadband technology.”
Zain Kuwait’s CEO said: “Offering integrated solutions and innovative solutions to our enterprise and individual customers is an important part of our strategic direction in creating a smarter world. Offering smart and innovative solutions to the corporate segment is a priority to our operations to achieve plans related to growing revenues that were affected with the injustice in the local market’s competition as well as OTT services suppliers.
She continued: “The recent launch of Zain’s Colocation Data Center (CDC) also comes under our vision to enrich the bundle of solutions and services we offer to corporate and enterprise customers, which reflects Zain’s strategic aspirations of delivering on a compelling digital lifestyle to its customers, both consumer and corporate. Zain’s CDC helps customers optimize the performance of their content and applications as well as protect their vital digital access.”
Al-Roudhan explained that Zain is continuing to grow its offerings by looking for new ways to make use of its broad infrastructure that it invested in during the past three decades: “The growing interest in Zain’s capabilities in offering innovative digital services in the public sector is real and palatable” she added.
Al-Roudhan continued: “It is true that some neighboring countries outran us in this direction, but what keeps us motivated is the governing bodies that handle planning have recently expressed their understanding of the importance of telecom and IT in developing the economy further and the need of services proposed and managed by Zain and not as direct investment. We still lack a comprehensive plan in this direction to achieve the desired results, but, as a first step, there is awareness and there is demand for technological innovations within the public sector.”
The Media: Partners in Success
During her speech on this occasion, Al-Roudhan thanked the Kuwaiti press for accepting the invitation and attending this ceremony with the company, saying: “We are proud of the important role the Kuwaiti media plays in many political, economic, and local fields that are of interest to the public.”
Al-Roudhan added: “The Kuwaiti press has always played its role as a progressive tool that communicates the essential needs of the society. There has been a strong bond between economic growth and media evolution, and at Zain we value that bond.”
Executive management teams from both companies were able to exchange their views about the latest innovations that Huawei has achieved in the telecom and ICT space.
Joy Tan, President of Corporate Communications at Huawei said: “Huawei’s partnership with Zain is based on a shared vision for ongoing innovation that enriches people’s lives through better service, better connectivity and a better customer experience. Our relationships with leading partners like Zain makes us what we are today”.
“Customer-centricity is a key driver for Huawei; it serves as the foundation for our innovations. Research and development is at the core of our solutions development, and our innovation pipeline has led Huawei to enjoy the global leadership position it does today,” Joy added.
The Innovation Journey
Zain and Huawei’s journey together commenced in 2006 with the introduction of the first 3G dongle (E-Go), which was a great success. This achievement made way to create a new era of accessing the Internet.
In 2008, Zain strengthened its partnership with Huawei by successfully launching a RBT platform, and later in 2010, Huawei took over the managed service of the network and established long term cooperation with Zain to build the top network in the region.
Considered to be one of the main phases of the Zain-Huawei journey, in 2012 the companies successfully launched the first commercial LTE 1800 MHz network that covers all of Kuwait, making the market one of the first to introduce this revolutionary technology in the region.
In 2013 Zain Kuwait and Huawei signed the first-of-its-kind Joint Innovation Center MoU. The center, inaugurated in 2014, serves as a research hub from which Zain is able to further advance its mobile broadband network, services, and applications offered to customers in Kuwait and across the region. The center also functions as a vital and dynamic link between Zain and Huawei’s Research and development teams, through the use of several virtual conferencing technologies. In addition, it serves as a pioneering research hub to build the latest innovative solutions and technologies to help Zain tap into new markets and provide a superior telecom customer experience.
In March 2015, Zain Kuwait and Huawei signed the world’s first 4.5G MoU to deepen bilateral cooperation, and in May of the same year, the partners held the Strategy Summit, which aimed to consolidate leadership in ICT transformation.
In an unprecedented step during December 2015, Zain Kuwait and Huawei showcased and tested the Middle East’s first 4.5G mobile broadband technology on Zain’s advanced network. The test saw the network reach peak speeds of 1 gigabyte per second (1 Gbps).
Going forward, Zain is also planning to provide voice-over-LTE (VoLTE), M2M services, and enterprise services in Kuwait. In addition, the company is also planning IoT solutions and other services that will benefit from the high speeds offered by 4.5G technology.
In early 2016 Zain and Huawei signed a new strategic MoU to explore offering B2B digital services to the enterprise sector, with the aim of introducing competitive offerings to local businesses.
By Abd Al-Rahman Al-Alyan