Career Episode Report for Electrical Engineer
- My second career narrative is about the experiences that I got while working as a consultant at the Rawabi holding with headquarters in alkhobar, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The project was the Design and implementation of an ICT plaintiff side complaint and took place between January 2013 and April 2013.I carried out this project at Rawabi NGNS offices in the Kingdom of Bahrain. I was tasked with the managing Rawabi NGNS operations and resources during the shutdown phase and I was reporting to the Rawabi Holding senior management
Here are the company details.
Address: P.O. Box 75638, Suite 203, Almoayyed Tower, Al Seef-District the Kingdom of Bahrain
- The information communication technologies (both software and hardware integration) continues to grow at the rate determined by the Moore’s law across the world. This is as a result of competition between the mobile operators, electronic manufacturers and software programmers. The market thus exhibits unpreceded, non-predictable behaviors that can make millionaires overnight and equally bring down giant ICT market players. The mobile operators (two dominant MNOs and several OLOs) in the Kingdom of Bahrain, experienced such havoc in their markets in 2010/2011, when another dominant MNO (Viva) tried entering and presumably monopolizing the market with fabulous offers to consumers. As the engineering manager in charge of carrier relations and regulatory affairs in Rawabi NGNS, an OLO in Bahrain, I analyzed, designed, built and presented the complaint on abuse of dominant power by the privileged MNOs, which had squeezed the margin between wholesale and retail prices beyond the TRA specified limit.
- The specific objectives I derived for this project included; To justify the urgent need of legal or regulatory action against dominant Mobile Network Operators’ predatory pricing, to build complaint basis, evidence and facts from the large operators’ actions, results and terms of service, to launch the complaint to the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, to persuade, convince and if possible wit-fully compel the regulator to take a corrective measure in order to balance the market competition, to gather the OLOs into a mass collective bargain in order to attract the attention of the regulator and most importantly to technically cover up the origin of the complaint in order to retain the relation of Rawabi RNGNS with the large operators.
Figure 1. Organization structured used to manage the project.
- I played several roles and responsibilities in the project lifecycle execution, including the following, among other tasks:
- Examining the market powers and actions of Viva in order to establish evidence that such practice is a predatory pricing aimed at eliminating competition
- Finding out the legal reference facts within and without the Kingdom of Bahrain, that would convince the Telecommunication Regulator that Viva deserves disciplinary action for violating competition laws
- Obtaining network structures and logical flow of traffic in the routes of both the dominant MNOs and OLOs to capture clearly their interrelation.
- Collecting, analyzing and extracting pricing specifications for various tariffs used by the dominant MNOs that prove abuse of their market powers.
- Designing, drafting and compiling a complaint that could be used as legal or regulatory basis for taking measures against this mal-practice.
- Co-coordinating with top managers of the colleague (competitor) firms experiencing similar losses to gather enough efforts and majority power, enough to convince the regulator.
- Presenting the drafted, designed, built and signed confidential complaint report to the regulator and providing all the necessary information asked thereof.
- Personal Engineering Activity
- I began the preparation to execute this project immediately, after the assignment was handed over to me by the general manager, in a meeting that we held to discuss the cost-benefit effect comparison on pursuing a legal solution verses aggressive marketing. I requested a departmental meeting with all colleagues in this project from where we established a time schedule for the project with sub-tasks assignments based on the objectives I had drafted.
- I sourced the data and information required for proper prosecution of the defiant dominant operators from the advertisements they had bill-boarded all along streets of major cities, displays on their websites and more so calling directly over their network and analyzing the costs incurred thereof. Then I needed a strong legal background information to squarely frame the complaint. Analysis of the telecommunications law of the Kingdom of Bahrain as enacted in the legislative decree No.48 of 2002, gave powers to the Telecommunication Regulatory Authority to investigate anti-competitive conduct by the industry players, accept complaints from operators and penalize fraudulent practitioners. However, there was no clear procedure on tackling margin squeeze cases between wholesalers and retailers in this laws. International laws were therefore substantial and with sample court cases would serve us enough legal grounds to basically justify this complaint. I also revisited the ISO 19600:2014 standards for legislation compliance by organizations.
- I then conceived, designed and drafted a functional block diagram of the project in a flow chart, which was meant to modularize the design in to smaller simpler tasks, as illustrated below.
Figure 2: Project Processes Logic Flow Design Diagram
- I then analyzed, specified and build each functional block in the above flow chart one by one while making sure I retained integration logic.
- Complaint Summery
I composed a short description of Viva’s Bahrain market entry, their behavior, triggering of price wars and expressed their effects which were majorly OLO’s threats.
- OLOs Mobilization
Making sure the voice is heard, required a majority cry effort. I therefore decided to make negotiations with retailer network operators, who shared a common margin squeeze heat, this would also hide the role played by Rawabi NGNS from the wholesalers.
- Nature of Business and Target Operator
I also made a vivid draft of the nature of market, roles of different players and exercise of dominant power by some firms over others.
- Legal Basis
The legal basis required here was multi-faceted and widely diversified specifically oriented in designed to launch a legal complaint to the regulator, I constituted Bahrain’s’ telecommunication laws, International laws and sample court cases
- Viva’s Predatory behavior
I specified the information collected from different Viva’s other international markets (Kuwait and Saudi), comparing them with rates it was offering in Bahrain to clearly bring out market squeeze behavioral characteristic of this target operator.
- Complaint Presentation and TRA Decision
I compiled a final complaint and persuasively triggered TRA by continuous negotiations, to come into rescue by exercising its corrective measures and penalty powers.
- During this design I had to mathematically, logically and topologically model, simulate and derive conclusions from the network operations of various OLOs, which I achieved by making use of the following formulas:
- Interconnection rent = BD 150 per PCM Link per Month X No. of PCM links X No. of months
- PPCC Distribution Cost = 10% X Service Revenue
- Bandwidth Cost = BD 110 per MB X Bandwidth required
- Probability that a consumer has to wait for service (Pw)
Where; A = Total traffic offered (Erlangs), N = Number of Servers
- Call holding time (h)
Where µ = service rate
- Generated Traffic (E)
Where ʎ = call arrival rate.
- It was a greatly challenging task to source for tariff and charging formulation information from Viva databases, due to security protocols, encryption and confidentiality of such data. This I solved by simply timing calls and internet usage periods while observing and recording such time and cost. Then a collection of these pairs gave me average costs charges. Negotiations with some of the OLOs would take long due to competition prospects. However, I managed to negotiate successfully with most of the players in our levels.
- After successfully designing and launching the complaint, the TRA requested additional information on traffic density before and after Viva offers, main destinations price per month, costs incurred per month and proof of damages. I acquired this information in details, network analysis and derived the impact of the Viva offers on OLOs telecommunication economics. The TRA issued notice to both Viva and Batelco to investigate possible breach of law, and these were later followed by an order to Batelco to stop its offers to main destinations. The Viva were found to have no Dominant power in the Kingdom of Bahrain market.
- Industrial mobilization to have as many OLOs sign the complaint, was a greatly innovated procedure that I aimed at making Viva’s offers appear to have caused damages in the whole market. This also safeguarded Rawabi NGNS from its supplier punishment and gave a good result, evidenced by the emergency order issued to Batelco to stop its offers and the reaction from Viva thereafter. Drafting the network design topological structures enabled me gather the route termination information. Building a legal basis on grounds of international court cases made the TRA identify a breach of conduct by the dominant market players.
- I made great use of CISCO Packet tracer simulation platform in deriving the logical network topology for analysis and design. I used Wireshark to analyze capture and analyze packets send over international links, which was highly useful in computing traffic density. Equally Important were the MS Office package that I used to analyze data and present precisely the complaint.
- During this project, I widely applied knowledge that I had learned in class on units such as tele-traffic engineering (trunking theory), mobile communication systems technology (GSM, GPRS, UMTS, CDMA 2000 and HSPA), and Inter-network design (LAN and WAN). I also applied widely ICT Economics and regulations knowledge which had studied in my final year undergraduate studies. I gained a wide experience in these sectors both practically and theoretically.
- As evidenced in the coordination of activities in this project, this success was achieved by means of teamwork, organizational and project management skills that I possessed. Holding regular meetings with the management of Rawabi NGNS, OLOs top managements, Legal fraternity, dividing tasks among members of my department and updating the management on project progress were key success factors. I also gave equal opportunity for contributions from the other operators who were victims of the margin squeeze by the dominant operators.
- Each of the steps I followed as illustrated in the flow chart, I compiled in step-wise progress reports that I used to gauge my achievements against the schedule time targets. I then combined them in to a single final report that I gave copies to the management for future reference. Summarizing court cases from various laws outside the Kingdom of Bahrain, was a key analytical skill of obtaining specific information from voluminous documents.
- All through the project life-cycle, I observed confidentiality of information especially when receiving data from other OLOs, or sourcing information from Batelco and Viva. This information was held, transferred, analyzed and shared outside the public domain. Negotiations with OLOs who were direct competitors to Rawabi NGNS, required high levels professionalism of me. I upheld the code of conduct set forth by engineers’ society and ethically conducted my own research without copyright infringements of whatsoever kind. Summary
- Conclusively, the project was all about compelling Batelco and Viva, giant mobile operators, from anti-competition practices which were squeezing the retail and wholesale prices to limits that would have wiped out our middle businesses in the Bahrain telecommunication industry. I learned widely on ICT regulations and legal frameworks, interrelations with industry players and more so got a wide experience in project management. By making all OLOs sign the complaint, ensured a collective bargain, where our success (goals) was achieved through issuance of emergency order to Batelco and notices to both of the dominant operators compelling them to stop anti-competition practices.