Venture caught Orange Jordan’s CEO Thierry Marigny for this interview where he talked about Orange’s latest product offerings, its fiber optic network, its business challenges and long-term plans for Jordan.
Tell us about your personal journey in the telecom world. How did you land at Orange Jordan?
“I have been in the ICT sector for more than 30 years, working in a diverse array of global markets across Europe, Middle East, and Africa, where I cultivated a robust experience in many fields comprising global management, marketing, strategic planning, and corporate communication.
Before assuming the role of CEO at Orange Jordan in 2018, I was the Deputy CEO of SONATEL Group — an Orange subsidiary based in Dakar, Senegal covering four countries in West Africa, where I also served as the Chairman of Orange Guinea. Before joining SONATEL, I was the Deputy CEO of France Telecom Mobile Liban (Lebanon) for three years, Orange’s Global Brand Vice President, Vice President of Marketing for Mobile Services, and CEO of Orange Tunisia.
Between 2001 and 2007, I served as the Founder and CEO of Cityneo, a Paris-based service provider that focuses on mobile applications and location-based services, which has given me a deeper understanding of the digital environment.
I am a graduate of the Telecom Business School at Evry University in France and hold a master’s degree in Marketing and Finance, as well as a diploma in Telecommunication Management, from Dauphine University in Paris.”
This is an exciting time for telecom in Jordan, as many providers are enhancing their networks to provide Fiber-To-The-Home (FTTH). Tell us about Orange Jordan’s own network enhancement, and what Jordanians can expect for the future of their connectivity options?
“At Orange Jordan, we have been working diligently to bring about digitization to the lives of our individual and enterprise customers, and keep them connected to the future with the fastest and strongest internet available through the most advanced infrastructure.
As a result, our company has been heavily investing in New Generation Networks (NGN); which are a new era of networks representing the future of connectivity, including 4G, 4G+ which is also known Long-Term Evolution (LTE, LTE-IoT, LTE-M), as well as Fiber-To-The-Home (FTTH), Fiber-To-The-Business (FTTB) and IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS).
Orange Jordan is the only operator that provides 4G+ services in the Kingdom.
THE FIBER OPTIC NETWORK IS CONSIDERED A REVOLUTION IN THE TELECOMMUNICATIONS WORLD, REPRESENTING A STRATEGIC PROJECT OF OUR COMPANY, AS WE PLAN TO DELIVER FIBER NETWORK SERVICES TO AS MANY HOUSEHOLDS AS POSSIBLE BY THE END OF THIS YEAR
Regarding the speed of data transmission through our company’s fiber network, Orange Jordan provides three different speeds; 100, 200 and 300Mbps depending on customers’ needs and wants in terms of its ultra-high speed, capacity, and affordable prices.
It is worth noting that the prices of fiber services in Jordan are very low compared to prices in other countries which Orange operates in, and the individual usage of fiber in Jordan is triple the usage in other countries.”
When houses and commercial establishments are connected with such quality connections, what are some of the technology possibilities for enhancing and improving everyday life?
“Jordan is ready to transform into a digital economy; for all the efforts made by the public sector through the e-government project, and private sector through making the necessary networks and infrastructure available.
Jordan is also one of the first countries in the region to seek a digitized economy and deliver e-government services.
The private sector was also keen on providing infrastructure and strong networks to match digital services such as 4G, Fiber, cloud computing, Internet of Things (IoT) and Smart Cities which are not only emerging and trending topics in the world, but also game changers as they will boost efficiency, reduce costs, and accelerate innovation as well as provide a wide range of improvements, from ensuring better control over production and costs, to fostering the development of new offers, by enabling companies to make more decisions, therefore the IoT is taking business to a whole new level.
Orange Jordan has developed many services, among which are the greenfield operations, and Smart City Solutions, which we are currently offering to Abdali, Al Raha Village, Saraya Aqaba, and many businesses in the hospitality sector, which is one of the most important and growing sectors in the Kingdom.”
What other products or services is Orange rolling out that will enhance the Orange customer experience?
“Orange Jordan invested more than 360 million JD between 2015 and 2018, including a 250 million JD investment in its fixed and mobile network infrastructure in order to deliver the best network experience in Jordan across all customer touchpoints, and create a converged customer experience.
Earlier this year, we at Orange Jordan rolled out the 4G+ service, also known as LTE advanced, which provides higher speed to users than regular 4G. We plan to offer this service to anyone who would like to experience it across different segments of society and all regions of the Kingdom.
Recently, we acquired new frequencies in 2600 MHz band, paying 39 million JDs of acquisition fees and have started offering 4G+ services.
Moreover, Orange Jordan is focusing on the Fiber networks project, which is now covering over 240,000 households in the Kingdom. We will continue this strong investment in 2019 to cover the main cities of the Kingdom.
ORANGE GROUP IS THE LEADING PLAYER IN EUROPE AND ONE OF THE LEADERS IN THE WORLD REGARDING THE FIBER TECHNOLOGY, WHERE WE HAVE 26 MILLION CONNECTABLE HOMES IN EUROPE BY ORANGE TODAY, AND OVER 2 MILLION ACTIVE CUSTOMERS IN FRANCE BY ITSELF
Other future technologies include the 5G service, which Orange Group is planning on introducing in the Jordanian market and which will create incredible business opportunities, especially in the connected objects area, driverless cars, telemedicine and a number of other services owing to its low latency and high speed capability.
Orange Group is investing 700 million euros in research and development every year to prepare for the future, and has more than 100 partnerships with universities and labs around the world. In Jordan, Orange localized a Technocenter to create specific services for the Middle Eastern and African operations.”
What are your biggest challenges as you see them? Over-taxation? Price Wars? Infrastructure?
“The challenges faced by the telecommunications sector in Jordan include very high taxes and fees. Such taxes and fees, including the cost of spectrum which is one of the highest in the world, are considered barriers to investment, and limit operators’ ability to enhance service availability and service quality, and also generate a number of potential distortions to the economy and adversely impact economic and social growth.
Moreover, the telecom environment in Jordan is very challenging; Jordan has one of the highest data usage driven by the adoption of smartphones and has low data prices due to fierce competition mainly on data.
The continuous drop on the net income of the telecom operators would affect their sustainability in the future, and will be an obstacle for new investments, and jeopardizes the switch toward the digital economy, contribution to GDP and planned e-Government services.
Yet, we are working diligently to ensure that the adverse effects of these challenges have minimal impact on our operations and investments. We are also confident that, with time, the Ministry of ICT, TRC, and all other related entities will be able to find solutions to these issues and others such as Mobile Number Portability and enhance the telecommunications industry on a national level.
The telecommunications sector needs strong investment from operators, and is a great enabler for the country to attract foreign investment, and help the development of remote businesses all over the Kingdom.”
As you may know, this is Venture’s 150th edition commemorating over 12 years of business and entrepreneurship reporting. What message do you have for Venture’s readers about Orange’s future plans?
“Orange Jordan has always been a digital partner of the Kingdom, and will remain committed to accompanying the digital transformation in the country through introducing the most advanced and innovative telecommunications services, all backed by the global expertise of Orange Group, and at the same time, providing our people with the best customer experience.
It is also worth noting that as an international company with a local spirit, we at Orange Jordan care about being part of the Jordanian community through seeking efficient initiatives that support different segments of society through partnerships with public and private organizations.”