Qualcomm Aims to Power Pakistan Mobile Broadband Eco System

In his last visit to Pakistan, James Munn, gave an exclusive interview for our Phone World Magazine.

James Munn is the Vice President of Business Development in Sub Sahara Africa (SSA) for Qualcomm Incorporated based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Mr. Munn manages Qualcomm’s strategic relationships with OEMs and the company’s regional customers including network operators / carriers, mobile handset vendors and software developers.

Before joining Qualcomm, Mr. Munn was vice president of Samsung South Africa’s mobile division where he spear headed sales and marketing operations and played a leading role in enhancing Samsung’s regional market share by more than 20 per cent.

[blockquote align=”left”] Qualcomm is a B2B company, spending much of its time working directly with ecosystem partners in the back ground to make sure that latest technologies reach the mobile devices  [/blockquote]

He has also spent 10 years with Ericsson and served as South Africa director of consumer products for Sony Ericsson, overseeing the launch of the company brand in South Africa and multiplying their relationships with key partners and customers. Prior to this, Mr. Munn worked in the European arena for Matsushita Communications (Panasonic) during the time when Europe started to migrate from analog to digital networks.

With such wide experience James gave an in-depth analysis of post 3G/4G scenario and future prospects of the ICT industry of Pakistan. He also discussed the role that Qualcomm will play in accelerating migration towards 3G/4G of Pakistan after 3G/4G Auction and their initial roll-outs, but the conversation ranged widely through the ICT industry and every aspect of it.

[blockquote align=”right”] Along with our regional partner (CACF), Qualcomm will run a series of workshops to assist in knowledge transfer of essential lessons learned [/blockquote]

PhoneWorld (PW) team would like to express its profound gratitude to James Munn (JM) for taking out time from his busy schedule.

PW: Tell us something about Qualcomm Inc. – Not many people know Qualcomm despite being a key ECO system enabler why is this?                                                          

JM: Qualcomm is primarily a business to business company spending much of its time working directly with ecosystem partners in the back ground to ensure the latest technologies get through to the latest mobile devices.  Those people whom are more technically aware and enjoy following technology would most certainly be familiar with the name Qualcomm.

In some cases the name of the Qualcomm chipset family ‘Snapdragon’ will appear on the packaging, web sites and print material of many of the leading mobile phone manufacturers as it signals the inclusion of a leading technology, something some end users may have also notices.

PW: Tell us what new technologies Qualcomm on is working that we see will have a lot of potential commercially?                                  

JM: Qualcomm Reference Design is one of many projects Qualcomm is driving in order to support OEMs in reducing their time to market with low cost smartphones and tablets. The benefit of this program is that Qualcomm partner OEM can get access to a series of reference designs which without Qualcomm’s investment in R&D would consume considerable resource and time to reach. This program allows OEM’s  to go to market with leading edge and cost effective smartphone in less than 2 months. For Pakistan this translates to a steady and affordable flow of high quality  smartphones and tablets.

PW: You have been looking after the Africa market for quite some time- how do you find that when compared to Pakistan?                        

JM: I see many similarities and synergies between the two regions.  Like Africa approximately half of the population is below the age of 20 and in the case of Pakistan Facebook has gained a massive following with over 13m users as of today, statistics which are so similar in many of the Africa countries as it’s driven largely by the youth.

[blockquote align=”left”] Qualcomm is excited about Pakistan, where 3G/4G technologies will play a key role in education, health, commerce and automotive [/blockquote]

Our aim among this massive growth opportunity will be to enable through operators and distributors better access to quality but affordable 3G/4G devices which will further improve access to much loved and needed internet based services and application.

PW: How is Qualcomm looking at supporting the Government of Pakistan i.e. MoITT & PTA?

JM: With the help of our partners Central Asian Cellular Forum (CACF), Qualcomm will run a series of workshops to assist in knowledge transfer of essential lessons learned.  Pakistan has a great opportunity to leap forward in its Mobile industry and accelerate access and mobile based services. Much of the learning we will share can assist in accelerating this transition.

[blockquote align=”right”] Through QRD program,companies can go in the  market with cutting edge technology and cost effective smartphones in less than 2 months [/blockquote]

PW: Qualcomm is engaged with operators for quite some time- what kind of activities does it do with operators?                                               JM: Qualcomm acts as a technology partner to Mobile operators in not only providing long term visibility in terms of what coming from a technology perspective but also by providing technology transfer in the form on network orientated training as well as numerous network based engineering support services.     

PW: Has Qualcomm been engaged with distributors in Pakistan- being an open market industry how do you see this segment?                

JM: Qualcomm will work closely with the distributors to ensure they have access to a broad range of affordable and reliable 3G and 4G devices. Like operators we also have in the past conducted training for their sales and distribution teams and will continue with these activities.

PW: Qualcomm is also quite active in mobile applications- what kind of activities and support shall the local IT industry expect from Qualcomm?                                      

JM: With the support of the Central Asian Cellular Forum, Qualcomm will be able to facilitate access to a very competent team of mobile application developers whom can both train as well as develop custom applications to meet the specific needs of the Pakistan consumer.  We are already supporting one mobile application incubation initiative i.e. PurePush and will also facilitate other software houses and universities to produce best of the breed mobile applications in the country.

PW: Qualcomm has been advocating the cause of early deployment of 3G & 4G in Pakistan. Now that we have done the 3G/4G auction how do you see the market progressing for the next 4-5 years?                                               

JM: Qualcomm foresees a massive adoption of 3G/4G devices, primarily in the form of smartphones and tablets. Whilst 3G/4G penetration may well be below 15% today, it is likely that this figure will change to over 75% 3G /4G in the coming 5 years. Another area we are excited about for Pakistan is the expansion of new verticals where 3G/4G technologies will have a key role to play such as education, health, commerce and automotive to name a few.

[blockquote align=”left”] We have partnered  with MNOs to provide long term visibility for ICT sector and to facilitate technology transfer through training as well as engineering support services [/blockquote]

PW: What are your views on the recent NGMSA auction?                      

JM: This is a very positive development for the country and its progress. Qualcomm congratulate all parties involved in a successful auction and look forward to assisting the Pakistan Mobile industry in accelerating its migration towards 3G/4G and ensuring that maximum benefit is derived from these technologies through technology transfer of best practice globally.

[blockquote align=”right”] We are already supporting PurePush and also planning to facilitate other software houses and universities in producing best of the breed mobile applications in Pakistan     [/blockquote]

PW: What are the other services that you feel would really be beneficial for the Pakistani market?

JM:

o    Education; digitaization of the entire education system and enhancement which in trun will uplift the overall education system and access to all students

o    Health;  to mitigate risk, prevent disease and improve quality of life

o     Commerce; the implementation of a seamless mobile banking and commerce system and complemented by a basket of applications and services designed to improve access and efficiencies in the commercial system

The issuing of the 3G /4G license in Pakistan moves well beyond basic internet access and a smartphone and presents the country with an opportunity to leverage all these technologies have to offer as social and economic enablers

PW:Is the concept of smart homes, smart cars and smart cities is too soon for Pakistan or this is something we should expect soon?

    JM: In the next 3 to 5 years as the network and consumer base will get mature, we will most definitely start to see the emergence and expansion of these new verticals in Pakistan as well. Qualcomm will again play a critical role in enabling the transfer to best practice from around the globe and provide the core building blocks from which to grow and commercialize these verticals.

PW: How do you see Mobile Education as key to fill up the large gap we have in removing illiteracy?                                              

JM: This topic is on everyone’s agenda in Pakistan (Government, Regulator, Mobile Operators, ICT operators,  OEMs etc) which means it will make significant progress since there is a unified consciousness to use the technology for Education.

[blockquote align=”left”] Qualcomm is working closely with the distributors to ensure they have access to a broad range of affordable and reliable 3G and 4G devices [/blockquote]

We are very proud to share with the readers that through the hard work of the CACF a formidable developer incubation center has emerged which as of today has already started to engage in the development of many valuable education based applications. This home grown talent will no doubt play a very critical role in the incubation and development of mobile education in Pakistan.

PW: 4G/LTE devices are quite expensive for Pakistani market- Do you have any plans to make them affordable for consumer and when do we see that? There also are reports of Qualcomm facilitating the industry doing some local assembly/manufacturing- Is this for 3G or 4G?                                                   

JM: Quite the contrary, through programs such as the Qualcomm Reference Design the affordability barrier has been addressed significantly and will continue to improve.

[blockquote align=”right”] Qualcomm will also play its role in enabling access to OEMs and will work with Local Pakistani Partners for viable local assembly  or manufacturing [/blockquote]

Mobile technology has a significant role to play as an economic engine in any economy and Pakistan is no different. Government can play an important role here though releasing the burden of import duties on 3G/4G devices as improved access provide far greater returns to the economy than the funds collected from duties. Local manufacturing is a possible option if the correct cost structures can be managed since price is a key component. Successful case studies exist where local manufactures has been used to improve time to market. Qualcomm will play a role in enabling access to OEMs able to partake in such activities through viable local Pakistani partnerships.

PW: What is your opinion of the Pakistani Human Resource in terms of competency? Is there any plan to enhance the skill sets of the Pakistani engineers and professionals?                                  

JM: Whilst Qualcomm does engage in compelling technology transfer through the training of mobile operator engineers. We have also been very encouraged by the advanced levels of ICT engineers coming out of Pakistan Universities, especially.

PW: Any message you want to give out to our readers?                           

JM: When you get your next mobile phone check whether it’s powered by Snapdragon? If it is you’re using Qualcomm.

Rapid Fire

Smartphone brand you use?    Sony

Which application do you use the most?   Whatsapp

Your first mobile phone?  Panasonic

Did you buy your first phone or someone gifted that?     I bought it.

Favorite color?     Blue

Favorite food?       Fruits

Favorite dress?     Jeans

Favorite car?      Toyota Landcruiser

Favorite pastime?     Clay pigeon shooting

What makes you happy?   Knowing that my work improves communication and internet access to many

What makes you angry?   Pollution

What kind of music do you  love to hear?    Rock, pop

If given a 2nd life what profession would you prefer?  Vet

You’re deeply proud of?   My childrens achievements

Rizwana Khan

Dreamer by nature, Journalist by trade.
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