Gmail Messenger launches in Africa, Middle East and Southeast Asia

Customers of Qtel Group companies in six different markets can now use the pioneering Gmail SMS Chat service, thanks to the evolving strategic relationship between Google and the Qtel Group.

With strong demand for the service in the Middle East, North Africa and Southeast Asia - where ownership of smartphones is much higher than the proportion of customers with Broadband data access - companies in the Qtel Group have rolled the service out to Indonesia, Tunisia, Maldives, Algeria, Palestine and Kuwait and enjoyed an extremely positive response.

For Qtel Group customers, the service is free of charge and requires no subscription. Chat messages sent from their mobile phones to the Gmail account are billed at normal SMS rates. The Gmail SMS service works with any phone capable of SMS and is compatible with all operating systems, including Symbian, Android and Blackberry.

The Gmail SMS Chat service gives Gmail users a quota of SMSs that they can send to another mobile customer. As this quota is used, an additional five SMS messages are added each time a Qtel Group customer replies to the initial SMS. It also enables Gmail users to add Qtel Group mobile customers - even if they do not have a Gmail account - to their address book and initiate real-time chat sessions with them, extending their community of friends.

Qtel Group and Google first launched this service with Wataniya Mobile Palestine in August 2010 where it was a great success. During the first six months more than 310,000 messages were sent by this service.

Encouraged by the initial success of this launch, the Qtel Group rolled the service out to other operations, including Indosat, Tunisiana, Wataniya Maldives, Wataniya Kuwait, and Nedjma. In doing so, Qtel Group became the first provider to launch this service in five of these markets.

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