Have you ever heard the term “behind every great man is an even greater woman?” Times are changing, and educated, strong minded women are climbing their way up the ladder of success, catching up to said man for an even greater collaboration. And in the case of Ooredoo’s Senior Director of Access Network and Sites Rollout Shaimaa Al-Najdi, the saying should go “behind every great Network connection is an even greater woman.”
With Her educational background holds an engineering degree from Kuwait University, and a certificate in Project Management from George Washington University, Shaimaa has been working in Ooredoo since the establishment of the company as the second telecom operator in Kuwait in 1999. She holds passion in what she does and explains the updates, upgrades and general ethos of Ooreedo’s esteemed establishment in a manner that makes even the technologically vapid easy to understand.
What is it like to be a professional woman working in the field of engineering, which is a male-dominated industry?
Working for Ooredoo, under the umbrella of the international Ooredoo Group, is a very rewarding experience. There are certainly some challenges being a Kuwaiti woman working in a male-dominated environment such as telecom engineering, but that’s beginning to change. Working within the Ooredoo Group is very empowering – in fact, female empowerment is one of Ooredoo’s main pillars of its corporate social responsibility values. Additionally, gender equality is one of the United Nations sponsored Global Goals, which Ooredoo Group pledged its name for and contributes to.
Ooredoo is invested greatly in its employees’ talent. There are ongoing training courses from reputable institutes with international standards, both inside and outside Kuwait, to ensure that all employees are up to date with the latest technologies and international trends. In that regards, all employees in Ooredoo are treated equally regardless of their gender. Ooredoo Kuwait also benefits from the exchange of experience between different departments within its operating companies.
Ooredoo Kuwait is one of three telecom providers in a highly competitive market. What sets you apart from competition in Kuwait?
The telecom sector in Kuwait is very challenging and dynamic. In general, telecom is one of the fastest developing sectors around the world. This is especially true in Kuwait and the GCC region, where most customers are tech-savvy and demand international trends to be available in the local market. The challenge today is to keep up with the expectations of customers, providing services and solutions that suit their needs
I’m very fortunate to be working in such a dynamic and challenging environment. Ooredoo Kuwait is part of the international Ooredoo Group, and ranks among the Middle East’s leading companies in terms of investment in its network. We’re continuously working to enrich our network even further in order to meet the demands of our customers and give them a truly enriching experience on our network.
Our network in Kuwait is currently undergoing an infrastructure upgrade that began in late 2014, and is scheduled to complete by 2017. Our aim from this is to deploy the latest technologies in order to give our customers the best in-class services.
Currently, our LTE network sites cover 100% of the residential areas of Kuwait, and our LTE-A high-speed Internet covers over 80% of Kuwait’s residential areas.
How has the effect of this network renovation been so far?
Our network development project had significant impact on our network speed. We recently won the title “Speedtest Awards Winner 2016” by Ookla, the company that operates the famous website Speedtest.net, a tool that measures network speed on users’ devices. The awards are based on speed test results conducted by hundreds of thousands of actual smartphone users in Kuwait.
We’re proud of this achievement, which reiterates our belief in our values of caring, connecting and challenging. We have adopted a very customer-centric policy in recent years to enrich their experience and fulfill their needs, and this policy translates in all our efforts and strategies.
We regularly benchmark our services in relation to all competition, and results have indicated that our network scores higher than competition in terms of speed. The tests were conducted in various locations and under different conditions across Kuwait to better measure the network’s strength.
What is Ooredoo’s level of investment in its network?
Our investment in our network infrastructure aims to sustain a strong core for our network, to ensure that we are able to meet the demands of customers and deploy the latest technologies efficiently. The company invested more than KD 20 million in 2015, and we have more than KD 16 million for the next phase of our network infrastructure upgrade.
We’re very eager to deploy the latest services as soon as they are available, and it is of great importance for us to have a reliable infrastructure to do so. We have expanded our fibre optics network to guarantee stronger coverage in network, and increased the number of our towers by 150 annually to maximize our coverage. Ooredoo Kuwait currently has more than 1850 deployed LTE sites across Kuwait, covering the entire country. We are continuously working with reputable partners with international experience to introduce the future 5G Internet to our customers.
When do you think you’ll be able to launch 5G mobile Network in Kuwait?
According to the International Telecommunication Union, the vision for 5G to be launched worldwide in 2020. We are working to upgrade and empower our infrastructure in order to be able to deploy 5G mobile in time. We finished the first phase of our infrastructure upgrade, which includes better fibre optics connections.
However, our current customers can benefit from the network upgrade that we are working on currently, which enables customers to get up to 450 megabits per second on their devices. This is made possible by our Netgear routers, and we are proud to be the first to offer these routers in Kuwait, which are able to offer LTE Category 11 capabilities to users.