As part of its CSR program, Nokia and IEEE Lebanon Section, an educational and scientific nonprofit organization, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to collaborate on various projects and events to contribute to the development of ICT industry and university students in the country. Leading Lebanese mobile operator Alfa has sponsored the programs to enable the collaboration to further support growth and advancement of the ICT industry in the country.
Nokia and IEEE aim to contribute to the development of the Lebanese telecommunications by modernizing ‘hard infrastructure’, such as the telecom network towers, and building fiber networks, and ‘soft infrastructure’ such as imparting technical trainings to university students as well as young professionals. The companies will organize trainings, events, seminars, conferences at their company premises.
Key aspects include:
Roger Ghorayeb, Lebanon Country Senior Officer, Nokia, said: “IEEE’s vision of sharing the knowledge gained through its research for the society is similar to Nokia’s vision of expanding the human possibilities of technologies. We are happy to join hands with IEEE to bridge the knowledge and competency gap for students and professionals by knowledge sharing and collaboration. We are confident that our collaboration with IEEE will further contribute to the development of the ICT industry in Lebanon.”
Chairman and CEO of Alfa, Marwan Hayek has won the Man of the Year in the Middle East Award (Operator Telecom Leader of the Year), in recognition of his achievements in the telecommunications sector and the development that he has brought to the sector in Lebanon through the strategy he adopted since taking office in 2010, which enabled Alfa to rise to the leading position in the fields of technology, services and social commitment; all which contributed to the creation of over 3,000 direct and indirect jobs in Alfa and the sector.
Hayek received the award granted by Telecom Review (TR), the monthly magazine specializing in telecommunications, at a celebration held on the sidelines of the “It's All About SMART Networking” Summit, organized by TR in Dubai, in the presence of international senior officials, executives and leaders in the telecom sector. Mr. Hayek also received the Best Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative Award, which was won by the company for its role in the field of Corporate Social Responsibility and sustainable development as part of the Alfa 4-Life CSR Program.
Hayek thanked the organizers for the two awards, pointing out that “this honor is an honor for the entire Alfa team and for the team spirit which distinguishes Alfa, and through which we have proven that when we make a promise, we fulfill it”. He added: “We were able together to make a vast leap in the telecommunications sector in Lebanon and in Alfa through the vision set by us as management to keep up with every state of the art in the world of telecommunications; we were pioneers in launching the 3G, 4G and 4G+ technologies in Lebanon; in addition, Alfa has become one step away from launching the first 5G station in mid-2018 after being the first to have signed first of their kind 5G memoranda of understanding in the region.”
Hayek indicated that this honor represents “an incentive for us to continue embracing this approach through which Alfa has proven its leadership in Lebanon and the region as a pioneering digital operator in terms of technology, services and community contribution.”
Performance and Faith
For the past six years at the helm of Alfa, Hayek has been distinguished for his faith in the potential and capabilities of the Lebanese. He maintained excellent performance and growth in Alfa, despite all the surrounding circumstances. He managed through his strategy to bring Lebanon and Alfa back to the international and regional telecom map where Alfa occupied advanced rankings in terms of its network quality, and its 3G network quality has been ranked 7th in the world, according to international reports.
Hayek has given special attention to social responsibility, where under his management, Alfa, managed by Orascom Telecom, has invested nearly 2 million dollars in programs aimed at capacity building of marginalized groups and persons and children with special needs under its “Alfa 4-life” program. In addition, Alfa under Hayek’s leadership launched a number of programs aimed at empowering young people, and supporting start-ups, social initiatives and young sport talents. Hayek has contributed to the creation of a supportive environment for Lebanese women and for the employment of people with special needs, whose quota has reached more than 3% of working staff within Alfa.
Alfa CEO and chairman, Marwan Hayek held a press conference at the new company headquarters to announce the launch of two new postpaid bundles offering discounts of up to 53%, in addition to a drop in internet bundle rates, in cooperation with the Ministry of Telecommunications and in line with the Minister's gradual rate decrease strategy.
First, Hayek welcomed the media at Alfa's new headquarters in Parallel Towers and thanked them for their constant follow-up of the company.
He said: "We are launching today two new postpaid bundles, the first being Start-Up for $45, which cuts by 47% the current postpaid rates and includes 550 local minutes, 100 SMS, and 1.5GB of data. The second bundle is the VIP bundle for $185, which cuts by 53% the current postpaid rates, and is addressed to subscribers with consumption exceeding 1000 minutes per month. This bundle includes 2200 local minutes, 120 international minutes, and unlimited SMS. This bundle is also the only one on the market offering 15GB of data."
It should be noted that the monthly subscription and VAT are added to the new bundle prices.
Hayek said: "In keeping with the announcement by Minister of Telecommunications, Boutros Harb, this morning about a reduction in prices, especially mobile data rates, we are pleased to announce that we are ready to implement this measure as of Monday morning. Not only will these new prices compete with those in the Arab region, but they will also allow us to offer better rates."
He pointed out that the price drops to be implemented vary between 10 and 20% depending on the bundle price, knowing that Alfa's exchange with the Ministry of Telecommunications about the new rates is ongoing, as these rates are being determined under the ministry's supervision and approval. Since the data bundle is used not only by Alfa subscribers, but also by about 4 million people, thus it is only logical and natural that the new tariff is applied to all subscribers in Lebanon. Therefore, to allow all the Lebanese to benefit from this move and in line with the ministry's directives, the discounted rates will be applied on Monday morning.
After Hayek made a comparison between the new discounted Alfa rates and those applied in the Arab region, it was revealed that subscribers to the 1.5 GB data bundle will enjoy lower rates than the overall average prices in the region, such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE, preceded only by Jordan and Oman. As for subscribers with average data consumption between 5GB and 10GB, they will enjoy the same rates as those applied in Jordan and Qatar. Subscribers with higher data consumption currently enjoy competitive rates that are less than those of the UAE and Qatar, contrary to the impression that our prices are higher than prices in these countries.
Telecommunications Minister Boutros Harb said he would push for the reduction of internet and 4G charges.
"The Telecommunications Ministry will reduce the internet prices gradually in accordance with the law and I will submit to the Cabinet proposals to reduce the cost of services, and this requires a decision from the government. But I hope that this proposal will not be blocked for political motives," Harb said during a news conference.
Harb reduced the DSL rates last year but despite this step, the charges are still considered relatively high compared to many countries.
The minister said he asked mobile operators touch and alfa to submit proposals to reduce the 4G rates, which are very high, as soon as possible.
He added that the Lebanese youth would be the first to benefit from the reduction of the 4G prices.
On this occasion chairman of the board of directors of Alfa and its director general, Engineer Marwan Hayek, held a press conference where he announced the launch of two new bundles for fixed lines where discounts will reach up to 53%, and a reduction in internet package prices, in cooperation with the Ministry of Communications and in line with Minister Boutros Harb's strategy of gradual decrease in prices.
Hayek said: "We are launching today two new bundles for fixed line subscribers: the first is the Start-Up bundle for 45$ and raises cuts by 47% compared with the present fixed lines price. The bundle includes 550 minutes for local calls, 100 SMS and 1.5GB of data. The second bundle is the VIP for 185$, raises cuts by 53%, compared with the regular fixed lines price, which is directed to subscribers with large consumption, exceeding 1,000 minutes per month. This bundle includes 2200 minutes for local calls, 120 minutes for international calls and unlimited SMS. What's featured in this bundle is the 15GB internet; the only bundle in the market that offers this amount of data."
He also added that the monthly subscription and VAT will be added to the price of the two new bundles.
On the other side, Harb disclosed that both alfa and touch have installed 800 4G stations out of the planned 2,400 stations. He expected the installations of all 4G stations before the end of 2016.
He also reminded that the plan to modernize and upgrade fiber optics across the entire country is proceeding according to plan.
"The experts and technicians at the Telecommunications Ministry may be able to install the fiber-optic network before 2020 and may even accomplish this task at the end of 2017. This network will become available next year and will reach every house in Lebanon," Harb said.
Harb added that Lebanon will eventually be switched from copper network to the high-quality and faster fiber-optic technology.