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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Etisalat, innovatively catching up with competition

As the fifth Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) operator in the country, Etisalat Nigeria, marks its one year of commercial launch, REMMY NWEKE, reports that the telecom operator is innovatively catching up with competition.

Having used some services of the Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) operators for about five years before the coming of Etisalat Nigeria into the market, it was like a nightmare for an energetic young professional with ‘travel’ as part of his details, Mr. Okaomee Idua, to miss his calls for anything.

It was not because he cannot call back or return calls information, but would not see miss calls on his phone, especially when the phones are switched off, while he hops from one airport to another or even travelling to some areas where the network of the operator is yet to cover optimally.

Although he bought Etisalat’s Subscriber Identification Module (SIM), when the company came up with its innovative way of allowing every potential customers’ to choose their mobile numbers of choice or available on the network, via its website, it was not co-incidental that Okaomee today has two GSM numbers relatively the same, with the difference being the individual operator’s code of identification like 0809, which Etisalat has since Nigerianised to mean 0809ija.

Therefore, Etisalat Nigeria, no doubt, has become associated as the innovative telecommunications company that adds value to the lives of its customers. Another value, for instance, by Etisalat was its recent launch of ‘Easynet suite of data services’ into the market, heralding yet another remarkable product bouquet from its stable.

Chief Marketing Officer, Etisalat Nigeria, Mr. Wael Ammar, told newsmen at the launch recently that subscribers on the network now have access to top quality Internet services combined with a vast portfolio of data plans and devices.

“This includes a branded Universal Serial Bus (USB) modem, software interface and a Data-only Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) card,” he said, noting that Easynet is one of the superior services that will position Etisalat Nigeria as the go-to-shop for all mobile data requirements, meeting the customer needs with regards to price, convenience and usability.

He explained that Easynet’s data suite, for instance, offers a three-tiered plan to enable customers obtain monthly-prepaid subscriptions and use up to 3 Gegabytes (GB).

“With this plan, subscribers can check, send emails, visit their favourite websites, chat online seamlessly and much more,” he assured, stressing that the debut of Etisalat’s data service package, Easynet, should be seen as a reflection of the operator’s continuous drive to expand value offerings with a view to broadening the business and personal horizons of all Nigerians.

“At Etisalat, we are very committed to investing in quality products and services that will easily bring the world within reach of all Nigerians once they purchase any of our unique and innovative products,” Ammar said, pointing out that Easynet is the latest product from the Etisalat stable which comes with unique and easy to use features that guarantee immediate access to the service.

“In line with our avowed desire to be known for the simplicity of products and services, the Easynet service can be purchased and activated immediately at the point of sale,” he said. Installation, the CMO said, is user-friendly and seamless, even as subscribers could recharge the SIM from the comfort of their system and manage costs with the unique balance notification system, just as the product also comes with an auto renewal system, which removes the stress of revisiting the shop for service renewal.

Several industry analysts observed that with its latest introduction, Etisalat Nigeria has not only proved its position as the fastest growing mobile telecommunications company in the world, it has also demonstrated its power of innovation.

Before now, Etisalat has launched such other offers like Easy Starter and Easy Cliq, which no doubt, reaffirms its innovativeness in product evolution.

With the Easy Starter offer, Etisalat presents unique features such as receiver pays, home zone, missed call notification, Etisalat service menu and recharge among others. Uniquely, Nigerians telecom subscribers cannot forget Etisalat entrance in a haste, given the novelty they are now enjoying in home-zone, which gives them calls at a much cheaper rates than ever. This was followed by the missed call notification, which has been the dilemma of Nigeria telecom users before the debut of Etisalat.

On its Easy Cliq, Ammar said, is simply loaded with exciting features comprising Unlimited Short Message Service (SMS), free midnight calls, bonus on incoming calls, Facebook update service by SMS, free Multimedia Message Service (MMS), Free data downloads, One Cliq-One Tune, Cliq Ring Back Tune and Talk’n’Share.

To a good number of Nigerian youths, and those youth at heart, the most exciting product on Etisalat has been the Facebook update service via SMS. Thus enabling them to know who is online or may have commented on their Facebook walls, so as to know when to login to follow up or something to be attended to later.

Currently standing at the 140th position among Financial Times’ top 500 corporations in the world, Etisalat is the largest telecommunication services provider in Africa and the Middle East with its growing clientele aggregated to be at about 85 million subscribers across Africa, Middle East and Asia.

Despite the fact that at inception or better still when Etisalat entered the Nigeria market through the Emerging Market Telecommunications Services (EMTS), it was awashed with the question on most lips in Nigeria being whether Etisalat would ever gain some subscribers let alone catching up.

Remarkably, the last one year of its commercial operation may have given some insight into where the company is going and its determination to make inroads, expanding network coverage up north, a terrain with its own share of lack of infrastructure network.

Then debut the N245million promotion (9jilions) and currently leaving over 5000 subscribers winning mobile phones in the Win-a-phone promo at various zones nationwide in addition to the millionaires that have emerged in the Etisalat 9jilion promo. The promo has been touted to be the best in terms of rewards to subscribers.

Interestingly, Etisalat’s One9ja Game show have seen several millionaires emerging with the likes of Mrs Amaka Ezendu going home with N2.5m, followed by Samuel Chukwudi, Ernest Ogbemudia, Glory Eiwone and Ilozulike Chimezie, each winning N100,000 respectively, while Ejoke Aisire, Okonkwo Blessing and Esther Ofefagha went home with one million naira each, with some of the consolation prize winners of N50,000 went to Bobi Zion Onoriode, Roselyn Ogbemo, Henry Ijeoma, Ese Onojetah, Odjus Utuyorume, to name a few.

Director, Segments and Marketing Strategy, Etisalat Nigeria, Ms Seki Akande, had said at the event that Etisalat customers are the heart of its business. “With this promo, we are not only rewarding our old and new subscribers, we are also giving every Nigerian an opportunity to experience our world class products and services, built from 33 years of operation in different climes. The 9jillions promotion represents the biggest cash prize winning in Africa and thus serves as a veritable platform to reach out to our subscribers,” Akande said.

The Director revealed that about 5,000 high-end mobile phones were given to lucky subscribers during the first phase of the promotion, which ended recently and explained further that the regional one9ja game shows which held in more cities in the coming weeks before the last phase, whereas the grand finale would hold this month, October, where one lucky subscriber will walk away with the grand prize of one million dollars.

“All a new or existing subscriber has to do is use up to N1,000 in a month, then send his location and name to #5123 to qualify for a chance to participate in the grand finale,”she said.

Like a promise made by its current chief executive officer, Mr. Steven Evans that coverage of Nigeria is a key to this year’s expansion plan, Etisalat seems to have met this self set goal. It was not unfounded to gather that the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) gave pass mark to the fifth GSM operator in the country for leading the pack in delivering quality service to Nigerians.

The National Assembly was not left out as both the Senate and House Committees on Communications have since attested to this fact, while urging for sustenance. Both committees led by their chairmen, Chief Sylverster Anyanwu and Mr. Dave Salako, were impressed as in the expansion strategies and what have been achieved.

All this may have encouraged the Director, Brand Communications, Etisalat Nigeria, Mr. Yinka Akande to have confided in ITRealms Online at the launch of the much celebrated commercial launch in Lagos, last year that they are not deterred but determined to deliver on promises.

For him, there is nothing like ‘A Mission Impossible’ for Etisalat, because it has resolute men and women who want the best of innovative services for the Nigerian telecommunication market. In other words, the flame of catch up with the other mobile operators is gathering moment as its subscribers have continued to soar.

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