As the Official Middle East & Africa Telecommunications Operator of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, Ooredoo has shattered world records, delivered phenomenal connectivity and wowed the world with the first-ever 5G-powered FIFA World Cup.
In an exclusive interview with Telecom Review, the newly-appointed Ooredoo Qatar CEO, Sheikh Ali Bin Jabor Al Thani, shared how the company, as a leading telecom operator, will continue to deliver connectivity to new heights and how the mega sporting event was a significant step on the journey towards achieving Qatar’s goal of becoming a truly advanced nation.
Congratulations on being appointed as the new Ooredoo Qatar CEO. What does this role entail for you, and what are your motivations moving forward?
I have to say I am both very proud and humbled by the huge responsibility with which Ooredoo’s leadership has entrusted me. I am also lucky to have inherited this position from a very successful predecessor, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulla Al Thani, who successfully led Ooredoo Qatar for three years. Sheikh Mohammed steadfastly steered the company through the challenges of the pandemic and on to some of our greatest successes, including our record-breaking performance during FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™.
Now it’s my responsibility to build on the strong foundations put in place by my predecessors and to enable the company to continue to innovate and drive value creation in our home market of Qatar.
As I now lead the company’s strategic direction and oversee its operations, my focus will be on achieving our very ambitious business goals and delivering value to all stakeholders, in line with Ooredoo’s vision of enriching people’s digital lives and its goal of upgrading its customers’ worlds.
As a market leader in Qatar, our responsibility is to ensure that Ooredoo consistently drives innovation, leveraging new technologies to stay ahead of the competitive curve.
To maintain this market leadership, we will continue to seek new partnerships with governmental institutions and leading technology companies — and strengthen existing ones — to drive digital transformation across various industries and sectors. This will enable us to continuously upgrade our suite of mobile and fixed connectivity solutions that are transforming our customers’ daily digital experiences and upgrading the way they work and communicate.
Internally, Ooredoo’s aim is to maintain our position as an employer of choice in Qatar, so our focus will remain on evolving into a more agile, team-focused corporate culture, as well as on attracting and retaining top talent; investing in young leaders; and fostering a supportive, inclusive work environment that ensures the wellbeing of all employees.
Ooredoo announced record-breaking figures at the conclusion of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™. How does this influence a telco’s strategy for delivering industry-leading communications and connectivity? Will you be powering any other major events with 5G soon?
We couldn’t be any prouder of what Ooredoo has achieved as the Official Middle East & Africa Telecommunications Operator of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™.
Ooredoo has shattered world records, delivered phenomenal connectivity and wowed the world with the first-ever 5G-powered FIFA World Cup.
Our opening ceremony data traffic exceeded that of the Super Bowl, and the records set at the opening ceremony were broken by the time the tournament concluded.
For example, the breathtaking final between Argentina and France at Lusail Stadium saw a record-breaking 45.1 TB of data used; 8.4 TB of stadium Wi-Fi used; more than 650,000 calls made; and 32,000 fans using roaming.
Indeed, Ooredoo has presented a phenomenal display of what will surely now be seen as industry-standard communications and connectivity for such major global events.
These record-breaking figures solidly indicate that the company's strategy for delivering industry-leading communications and connectivity has been undeniably successful.
This success encourages us to continue our strategic investment in cutting-edge technologies like 5G and 5G use cases, as well as network expansion, which can enable the delivery of transformational digital experiences for users and further drive innovation, development and expansion in the telecommunications industry.
In its network modernization and expansion journey, Ooredoo has taken a holistic approach that prioritizes technology, reliability, digital inclusion and sustainability. This approach ensures that everyone remains connected and that our investments in our network are sustainable for the long run.
That said, we will certainly be powering other major events with 5G, leveraging the advancements we have made to create ever more upgraded experiences for users and take the way they experience connectivity to new heights.
During the mega sporting event, what was the importance of providing a 24/7, fully immersive experience to fans, customers and broadcasters? How did they benefit from Ooredoo Qatar’s network modernization?
FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022TM provided us the greatest opportunity that a host country can have to showcase its capabilities and deliver an entirely memorable experience for fans, customers and broadcasters.
A sporting event of this caliber, held in the 5G era, comes with great expectations and responsibilities: high-speed, low latency, reliable and seamless connectivity to enable fans to stay connected and share their experiences, as well as the capability for broadcasters to deliver high-quality live content to a global audience.
I can confidently say that, as the Official Middle East & Africa Telecommunications Operator of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, we exceeded expectations and lived up to our responsibilities.
Ooredoo Qatar’s network modernization, which included upgrading our 4G LTE network and widely deploying 5G and advanced technologies, played a key role in meeting these demands and delivering the best-ever experience.
Let me give you some key facts of what was done:
Proper network capacity and resiliency throughout all network components — RAN, Core and Transport — was ensured for both national and international segments, and included full modernization of the core, with a sophisticated cloud core network in state-of-the-art data centers.
A major upgrade of outdoor radio sites with the latest 5G technology maximized country-level coverage, including stadiums, airports, rail networks, fan zones and other FIFA-related facilities. Capacity for fan zones and other event venues and hotspots was enhanced.
More than 1,130 multi-beam antennas connected over 355 km of RF cables and over 202 km of fiber optic, covering the eight stadiums and immediate surrounding areas with 4G and 5G. Mobile network services with 5,000+ cells, 1,500+ DOTs, TETRA services and a Wi-Fi backbone offered state-of-the-art 5G, 4G, 3G and 2G technologies at all eight stadiums.
Network enhancements also included upgrades of Ooredoo’s National and International Transport IP links capacity, ensuring abundant bandwidth for internet connectivity with international servers for popular OTT applications such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, WhatsApp and more. These upgrades also ensured the provision of high-quality voice calls and an excellent roaming experience, enabling customers and broadcasters to stay connected with their international home destinations.
What’s more, customer experience measurement devices were deployed in stadiums and fan zones to monitor in real-time the main applications being used by fans and enable proactive real-time quality enhancements.
By offering a robust and reliable network, we were able to support high-bandwidth applications like live streaming, real-time data transmission and video calls, enabling fans and customers to stay connected and engaged with the action from anywhere in the world and enjoy an upgraded, fully immersive experience provided by our innovative solutions.
All these efforts enabled Ooredoo Qatar to deliver a once-in-a-lifetime world-class experience to customers, visitors and fans. Our performance also reinforced Qatar’s reputation as a leader in technology and innovation.
Qatar aims to be a truly advanced nation. What is the telecom industry's role in achieving this goal, and how did the first-ever 5G-powered FIFA World Cup help accomplish this?
Holding a mega-event, and in this case, the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, is a powerful motivator for the host country to rapidly advance in areas such as infrastructure, tourism and economic development.
The telecommunications industry features as an integral part in achieving this advancement and plays a critical role in helping Qatar become a truly advanced nation, as it provides the backbone for many key technologies and services that are necessary for a modern, connected, knowledge-based society.
The first-ever 5G-powered FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022TM was a significant step on the journey towards achieving the goal of becoming a truly advanced nation, as it demonstrated the capabilities of 5G technology and its potential to transform the way people live, work and even play.
With its high-speed internet and modern telecommunications infrastructure, Ooredoo was able to support innovation in many areas such as healthcare, education, sports and commerce, among others.
The deployment of our 5G during the event showed the world that Qatar is at the forefront of technology and innovation and is committed to leveraging advanced communications to enhance the quality of life for its residents and visitors.
Ooredoo’s 5G network provided high-speed, low-latency, reliable connectivity that enabled fans, customers and broadcasters to experience the event in real-time with high-quality video, virtual reality and augmented reality applications.
This helped showcase the potential of 5G to revolutionize the world we live in and set the stage for continued innovation and development in the future.
Without dedicated manpower, FIFA wouldn’t have been a success. How does Ooredoo Qatar build such a highly skilled, diverse and integral workforce while promoting an inclusive and innovative work environment?
Key pillars of Ooredoo’s corporate strategy are “Excellence in Customer Experience” and “People,” and both these pillars are closely connected, as succeeding in customer experience requires an engaged and empowered workforce.
In this context, we are advancing our ways of working by increasingly adopting agile methods, fostering cross-functional collaboration and driving personal ownership of outcomes and respective empowerment.
We measure and benchmark the engagement of our workforce and have managed to achieve very strong results as an outcome of numerous initiatives.
Indeed, a crucial aspect of Ooredoo Qatar’s success is building a highly skilled, diverse and integrated workforce. But not only that; we are also building a workforce that is motivated, engaged and committed to delivering high-quality services and solutions to its customers.
We achieve this through talent acquisition via a robust recruitment process that attracts the best talent from Qatar and around the world, providing opportunities for individuals with a wide range of backgrounds and experiences to join the company.
This talent is retained through our employee engagement effort, which fosters a positive and supportive work culture and helps us to retain top talent and create a motivated, innovative and productive workforce.
We also have training and professional development programs designed to upskill and reskill employees, helping them build the skills they need to excel in their careers. Coaching and mentoring underpin this daily work to help people to grow with Ooredoo and contribute meaningfully to our business.
Another important element of our success is the promotion of a diverse and inclusive work environment that values and embraces differences, providing equal opportunities for all employees, regardless of their race, gender, religion or background.
Going forward, our People strategy will focus on deploying strategic workforce planning in line with our Smart Telco business model, developing a strong pool of highly skilled talents and a solid talent bench.
As one of the most valuable and strongest of Qatari brands, how can Ooredoo Qatar continue to solidify and build on its reputation?
As the leading telecommunications provider in Qatar, Ooredoo has a solid foundation on which to continue building, strengthening its position and maintaining its competitive edge in the industry.
Meeting the ever-changing digital needs of our customers, delivering high-quality services, excelling in customer experience and building strategic partnerships are all vital elements that enable Ooredoo to stay ahead of the curve.
We continue to invest in research and development to bring innovative and cutting-edge products and services to the Qatari market.
We tirelessly address our customers’ concerns promptly and efficiently to deliver a positive customer experience and retain our customers’ loyalty to the brand.
And, in forming strategic partnerships with global tech giants, we are able to leverage their expertise and resources to upgrade our offerings.
Finally, as a forward-thinking company, Ooredoo is increasingly taking a leadership role in Qatar’s drive to create sustainability and its commitment to socially responsible investing.
Under its new leadership, what are Ooredoo Qatar's core objectives in 2023?
Ooredoo’s competitive strategy, strong leadership and continued investment in network modernization and expansion drove positive momentum that resulted in our solid position in 2022. We drew key lessons from last year that will inform and support the evolution of our strategy, with prioritizing customer experience as a key focus.
In increasingly competitive markets, our aim in 2023 is to create superior customer experiences and inspiring moments for our customers, an approach we see resulting in heightened levels of loyalty and higher spend with Ooredoo.
We will continue to invest in upgrading and expanding our network to meet the increasing demand of our consumer and business customers for data and connectivity. 5G and its myriad use cases will remain a key driver of the company’s ongoing success as it adopts the latest technologies.
With significantly increased network capacity and the introduction of edge computing, our high-speed, low-latency 5G network will enable us to deploy more IoT devices and AI applications — which have the potential to greatly enhance people’s digital lives by simplifying daily tasks and creating personalized experiences.