x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Qtel rings up music downloads

The Qatari telecommunications company has linked with Universal Music Group to offer unlimited mobile phone music download subscriptions.

BARCELONA // Qtel, the Qatari telecommunications company, has linked with Universal Music Group to offer unlimited mobile phone music download subscriptions. The service will be launched in Kuwait, Oman and Qatar before rolling out into the rest of its network later this year. The company will also launch a mobile phone remittance service later this year to help workers send money home. Qtel is talking with major banks to target customers in the South Asian subcontinent countries, as well as the Philippines. Telecoms companies are increasingly looking at new service packages in content and other value-added schemes to retain customers as competition intensifies. "We believe that content is going to be important for our customers and the driver for growth in our company," said Dr Nasser Marafih, the chief executive of Qtel. "It will be a key differentiator for our company to our competitors."

Dr Marafih gave no indication of how much the monthly music subscriptions would cost, but said they would vary depending on the market. Universal charges about Dh85 (US$23.15) a month for mobile phone music downloads in other markets in which it has signed deals. Rob Wells, the senior vice president for digital at Universal, said the company was increasingly linking up with mobile phone operators because piracy and a decline in album sales had affected profits.

"We like to target telecoms in specific regions and territories that show signs of innovation and business development," he said. Qtel is one of the largest telecoms companies in the Middle East, with 53 million subscribers in the Gulf, Africa and Asia. Transferring money over mobile phones is a major business for banks and telecoms operators in developing countries. The Middle East has become the fastest-growing region for remittances and transferring money, increasing at an annual rate of 15 per cent rate compared with 8 per cent globally, said Colin Yeo, the director of product innovation for Qtel.