Focus shifting to value-added services in communications

DUBAI - As an increasing number of businesses go global, the need to communicate quickly and efficiently has grown. When email was first introduced, it spelt the beginning of the communication revolution. People sent messages back and forth over the Internet at minimal costs, and with never imagined speed. If that wasn't quick enough, there was 'chat', that allowed for a virtual conversation in real time. The introduction of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) brought the added dimension of sound, making conversations as realistic as possible.

By Khaled Abdulla

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Published: Fri 30 Apr 2004, 11:12 AM

Last updated: Wed 1 Apr 2015, 11:54 PM

In an exclusive talk with Khaleej Times, Bashar Dahabra, the chief executive officer and founder of wireless applications service provider, said: "While the first two generations of communication were focused on adopting 'necessary' technologies, 3G or the third generation of technology has started concentrating on value-added services. PCs and mobile phones have responded quickly to these developments, introducing upgrades and added features to provide value-added services to users. This constant revision of function and design has resulted in a convergence between these two devices, with the mobile phone developing into a multi-functional device. Mobile phones, handhelds and PDAs (personal digital assistants) are currently designed to perform like wireless PCs. Users can exchange textual and graphic content through SMS (short message service) and MMS (multimedia messaging service), schedule appointments, undertake voice recording, surf the web, send emails, download pictures and play MP3 files. This capability of the mobile phone to function like a wireless computer has resulted in a paradigm shift in the way mobile phones are viewed today."

The communication industry is currently migrating from voice communication to text and MMS.

According to GSM Associates, more than one billion text messages are exchanged everyday in the UAE. There are an estimated three million mobile phone users currently in the country, with the numbers growing at average rate of 10 per cent each year. There is also a growing convergence between mobile phone and Internet users. Research shows that more than 80 per cent of the UAE population will use mobile phones, far surpassing the number of PC and TV users by 2005. With 3G technology, mobile communication is entering a new, exciting phase - the transformation from a voice-centric service to a multitude of multimedia, content-rich information services. Unlike the current technology, which focuses solely on voice communication, 3G allows people to talk to a friend, watch a video clip, or surf the Internet - simultaneously - and all from one portable multimedia device.

Mobile manufacturers and service providers in the Middle East are spending millions of dollars on introducing new technologies and innovative applications.

These new features have extended the mobile device's functionality, from being a mere communication device to becoming a news and information provider, as well as a tool for entertainment.

Dahabra added: "People today are experiencing an information overload. Consumers are becoming more selective about the type and quality of information received over the Internet and through the mobile phone. Mobile operators are offering consumers new options to do this. Operators like Info2cell allow users to select the content, as well as the time and frequency of delivery of information. This is seen in the form of services such as notification of emails, traffic jams, breaking news, banking news, changes in flight schedules, financial stock and sports updates, or even sending personalised greeting cards. As more people are converting to these specialised services, operators are able to offer extremely cost-effective services to consumers, signifying a new revolution in wireless communication."

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