Dr Homoud Alkussayer, STC Wholesale Q&A: Connecting the Kingdom and beyond

27 March 2014 |

STC Wholesale VP Dr Homoud Alkussayer explains why innovation and value-added services are essential to the Middle East region.

How is STC addressing the large demand for content and services from various market segments and demographics?
Content delivery from global Tier-1 content providers enables high-quality access to international content, and STC Wholesale is working closely with both content providers and CDN providers. Popular content includes educational training, social networking, blogging, news, etc.

Additionally, STC’s subsidiary Intigral – which is located in Dubai Media City – is part of STC’s strategy to generate and distribute local content, including Arabic content. Intigral works with local and international media channels to aggregate and distribute content from diverse franchises such as MBC, Saudi Football League and Manchester United football club.

According to recent statistics, more than 50% of the Saudi population is below 25 years old. It is a tech-savvy population that is eager to embrace technology to communicate. This sophisticated youth segment is particularly active in social networking. For example, YouTube and Twitter usage in KSA is the highest in the world.

Additional to KSA’s market segments and demographics, a unique feature of Saudi Arabia are the two Holy cities of Makkah and Al-Medina, which attract Muslims from all over the world. Throughout the year, millions of Muslims visit these locations, particularly during the month of Ramadan and during Hajj season. This has presented a huge opportunity for STC to tap into the internet, content and voice requirements of these special pilgrims with targeted and attractive packages.

How is Jeddah becoming a hub for international connectivity in the Middle East?
Jeddah has always played an important strategic role with regard to international connectivity. The very first submarine cable system in the region, SEA-ME-WE 1, was launched in 1986 and Jeddah was one of its original landing stations. STC played an important role in this historic 13,500km system, which was also the first system to lay cable in the Indian Ocean. We have come a long way since then, with Jeddah today being a Middle East hub for international connectivity, with more than 10 submarine cable system landings.

STC is currently working to make Jeddah into a hub for international and regional operators, through the launch of two new service platforms: “MENA Gateway” and “JEDIX”. These new platforms will enable the provision of optimal peering arrangements, IP connectivity, hosting/co-location and value-added services, including cloud computing and content delivery.

How do you see ICT evolving within the Kingdom, and what role is STC playing in this regard?
The Kingdom’s Ministry of Communication and Information Technology has developed a National Communications and IT Plan that sets objectives to achieve sustainable socio-economic development in KSA through ICT. In order to propagate the benefits of ICT to all Saudi citizens, it is important that such plans and government policies be developed and implemented in a cost-effective manner, so that there are appropriate incentives for both the consumers and ICT providers to create a vibrant ICT-based economy.

Looking outside of the Saudi Arabian market, how is STC Wholesale helping to support international connectivity across the GCC region?
As early as 2002, when STC was a founding investor in the SEA-ME-WE 4 submarine cable system and also led efforts to create this consortium, STC anticipated the significant future demand requirements for international capacities as a consequence of the growth of data and the internet. We therefore developed and implemented long-term strategies to invest in major submarine cable systems that traverse via the region.

Since then, STC has accelerated its participation in international submarine cable consortia and further complemented these systems with alternate terrestrial routes, thereby placing STC in the unique position of offering a comprehensive portfolio of diversified and reliable state-of-the-art international transmission facilities that stretch from south east Asia to the Middle East to Africa and Europe. These Terabit-capacity systems carry voice, data and internet traffic for consumers, businesses, institutions and governments, vital for the economic development and growth of the regional markets.