Three major challenges in the telecom sector in Saudi Arabia

Dr. Khaled Biyari, Group CEO of STC talks about the three major challenges for in the telecom sector.

Dr. Khaled Biyari, Group CEO of STC talks about the three major challenges for in the telecom sector.

There are a lot of challenges in the telecom industry. What do you see as three major challenges in the sector, and for STC specifically?

There are many challenges as the telecom industry is going through a major transformation as a response to disruptive technologies in how customers are getting their services. The major challenges that face the whole telecom industry are, I would say, the regulatory framework, human resources, and investments.

The regulatory framework is the most important challenge. How do you deal with such issues, and how do you ensure that proper frequencies are located to cater to the incredible demand that is happening on the mobile network? We are a highly regulated industry, while the digital players are not regulated, at all. If the digital players are providing services directly to the customer without regulation, then that creates a disruption in the model.

As far as incumbent operators who have inherited a large numbers of employees, if the aim is to become a digitally-enabled organization and investing in cloud services, then there is a need for a new skill set that is not typically available in conventional telecom companies.

Therefore, the issue is either to grow such skills in the organization or to inject new blood, which brings up a new set of challenges because one always needs to be mindful of the cost implications. This places a completely new challenge on telecom companies as they have to keep evolving their business into the digital sphere.

Lastly, how and where a company invests is another challenge: Should spend take place geographically or vertically? Where we put that dollar of investment is another challenge that we continually keep in mind in order to make the right investment decisions.

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