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2015 marked a fantastic year of accomplishments and development, especially for touch, the leading mobile telecommunicationsand dataoperatorin Lebanon. The company, which is managed by Zain group, the pioneering mobile and data services operator in the Middle East and North Africa group, has taken the market by storm, reaching an all-high of 53.8% in terms of market share. Touch has significantly strengthened its stance as a leader and as the Lebanese people's preferred network operator. The company sealed 2015 with a groundbreaking 81% of the total share of new customer acquisitions for the year. The operator now serves a total of more than 2.27 million customers, 68% of which are data subscribers.

A new world of innovation
Of its many milestones, touch has significantly advanced in terms of positioning itself as a pioneer in innovation and providing advanced technological solutions. One illustration of this is the Geo-Targeted SMS service, which is a first-to-market package exclusively sold by touch. Its brilliance lies in the fact that it is the sole service in the country that allows advertisers to enjoy smart targeting. In other words, it allows visitors to be targeted based on their real-time geographical location. The Geo targeted SMS service defines the perimeteraround a given location, such as retail stores or malls, and sends out SMS messages to a niche audience who are within the boundaries of that location, at a predetermined strategic timing. Some of the predefined locations include areas Dbayeh and Ashrafieh, Hazmieh, Sin el Fil, downtown Beirut and the airport.

The customer remains at very essence of touch's every day operations and decisions. They dictate the company's every move, because no one better than them understands the ever changing needs in a dynamic digitalized age. Thus, touch continues to live up to its consumer-centric strategy by offering its subscribers multiple promotions and packages. The Web and Talk bundle, for instance, has been an ultimate success. Postpaid customers pay $99 to enjoy an intriguing combo of local and international minutes, data and SMS at a mind-blowing 45% discount rate. Partnering with the global sensation, Uber, touch also created a very special promotion for all its subscribers. By using the code "touchPromo" in the Uber Application, subscribers enjoy two free Uber rides worth $10. This association not only boosted touch's brand equity, but also allowed customers to conveniently delight in and embrace digital innovation.

Because innovation is in the core of touch business, touch greeted the Lebanese for the occasion of Christmas and New Year on its own way, by customizing touch mobile app to reflect the festivities of the holiday season. Upon accessing the application the phone is shaken, screen is beautifully embellished with falling snowflakes. Santa Clause then appears on the screen and Christmas music starts playing. It also celebrated the occasion through another augmented reality greeting that also took the form of a competition.

The touch self-care mobile application has truly been a fascinating success, reaching another milestone with 830,000 downloads, the 1 million landmark being just around the corner.

Going beyond its own mobile application, touch, in collaboration with Zain Group, partnered with the very popular game application 'Cut the Rope' to provide valuable prizes for the game lovers of its customer base when successfully completing its various levels. This has further boosted touch's brand equity as a leader of digital innovation.

Living up to the digital age and achieving superior network performance
In a world that is approaching seamless connectivity, touch believes that providing an excellent network with great coverage and fast data speed, through which applications can run smoothly, is absolutely essential for high customer satisfaction. With the ministry of telecommunication's Vision 2020 just above the horizon, achieving superior network performance is no longer a privilege, but a must in our digital age. For that reason, and to be up to speed on the international stage, touch issued an RFP to rollout LTE-Advanced technology using 800 & 1800 MHz bands, attaining high speed MBB services of up to 300 Mbps. The solution is smart and scalable, with the ability to support 4.5G technologies in the future with simple upgrades on the existing infrastructure.

Additionally, touch is continuously optimizing its 3.9G & 4G networks by introducing several features that help improve quality and maximize efficiency. Additional sites and carriers were also implemented to increase capacity and ensure coverage expansion and improvement in rural areas. In order to close the gap between performance measuring systems and actual user experience, touch also started introducing several advanced applications that collect and analyze the quality of experience for different data services. These allow touch to continuously monitor customer satisfaction and to make any necessary additions or amendments.

The customers always comes first
Touch exerts every effort to be around its customers, wherever they are around the country. These efforts recently manifested in touch's new service center in Byblos and 31 POP (point of purchase) at Ogero locations. These aim to create proximity with the customer, but more importantly to support the local community and to offer more local customer service experience. In fact, touch's long term plan is to have a total of 56 POP and two new service centers.

Furthermore, when it comes to customer care and experience, a new invoice layout was introduced in December to offer touch postpaid customers easy-to-read and comprehensive invoices. Also, touch launched the data capping initiative to help its subscribers better control their extra MB consumption.

Touch profound faith in the Lebanese youth and entrepreneurs
Touch has also invested its energies in promoting innovative ideas and startup forums. The company has shown profound faith in the Lebanese youth and in their ability to transform their technological ideas into real successful businesses. This is an essential part of the company's strategy which revolves around the local community, especially the youth, thus contributing to their development and helping them optimize their potential. In 2015, touch organized an interactive seminar at the American University of Beirut to introduce the Lebanese youth to the MIT Enterprise Forum (MITEF) competition for the best business start-ups in the Arab world, organized by Zain in partnership with Community Jameel International, the Corporate Social Responsibility arm of Abdul Latif Jameel Group. The seminar was one of a series of seminars which touch organized in several Lebanese universities to urge Lebanese youth to find inspiration and come forward with their ideas for innovative projects that could change the world.

Touch also participated in this year's Banque Du Liban (BDL) Accelerate 2015 conference under the theme "Emerging Startup Ecosystem". The event took place on the 10th and 11th of December 2015 atForum de Beyrouth. Touch's participation was under the headline of "A Partner in Innovation" creating a strategic fit that further establishes the company as a leader in digital innovation. During Accelerate 2015, touch showcased four innovative products which were built and made commercially available in partnership with three local Lebanese startups. These include the touch cloud application in partnership with Apstrata, the touch mobile application and the touch Apple Watch App both in partnership with FOO as well as its music bundles and services in partnership with Anghami. In fact, this event has allowed touch to showcase its most innovative digital solutions and services, positioning itself as a partner for local entrepreneurs in this emerging startup ecosystem in Lebanon.

NMPC is a national mobile programing contest for University Students founded in 2012 by the Ministry of Telecommunications and the University of Balamand, in collaboration with touch. The contest was designed to introduce Lebanese universities' students to the mobile programming field and stimulate their interests. Due to its success, the Third National Mobile Programming Contest (NMPC-III) took place in 2015, ending with an awards ceremony that was held at The Ministry of Telecommunications in July.

Touch also sponsored The Ideal Business competition, which selects four teams of entrepreneurs and gives them the business development resources, valuable tools and coaching to compete. It encourages creativity and promises to turn innovative business ideas into a reality. This competition goes under the "Innovation of Academic-Industry Partnerships through Efficient Research Administration in Lebanon (IDEAL)" project funded by the tempus IV program of the European Commission. It is also supported by the American University of Beirut.

"Positive touch" to support Lebanese society, environment and economy
Touch takes pride in its corporate social responsibility program, "Positive touch", through which it has advocated many important causes. Under Positive touch, the company supports three main pillars: environment, society and economy. These pillars manifest in numerous initiatives that touch adopts throughout the year. In March 2015 and in partnership with the Children Cancer Center in Lebanon (CCCL), touch launched "Light a Candle", an unprecedented digital initiative in Lebanon and the region. This project allows subscribers to donate money to the children of CCCL, by lighting a candle worth $1, $5, $10, $15, or $20 on the touch self-care application. During Ramadan 2015, touch also gathered 170 children from SOS Children's' Villages between the ages of five and 13, to spend a full day of entertainment and learning at KidzMondo.

In response to the garbage crisis, touch also launched the Green touch campaign, sharing all the information and tools that it regularly utilizes to contribute to the reduction of waste and environmental pollution, such as recycling, reducing and reusing.

Furthermore, touch's online Christmas campaign called for its customers and employees to vote for one of three NGOs that represent the three main pillars of Positive touch. The people's choice was AFDC, the association for forests, development and conservation, which represents the environmental pillar. The NGO was granted $15,000 as a result. Moreover, touch and AFDC have decided to join efforts to create the touch Forest, a total area of three hectares (30,000 square meters). This space can support an average of1,500 stone pine trees which are known for their high economic value.

These constitute a few of the company's CSR initiatives. Touch has worked towards many other humanitarian projects which were widely recognized and awarded.

Touch investment in human capital
One of the HR ideas shared with you pertains to a first on-line development of all our employees aiming at educating them towards becoming more corporate social responsible not only in relation to the society, but also the economy and the environment. Touch managed through this customized program to develop its staff in the above regard, and also to gather from them CSR related ideas and suggestions that are an indication of the success of this program in encouraging employees to reflect in a common direction that would contribute to a more "positive touch". Touch believes that the subject program objective is beyond internal HR development, and very few companies in Lebanon would go for such an investment.

2015 awards and recognitions
Touch's commitment to its CSR program, Positive touch, has been the inspiration behind many of its innovative products and services, the Tawasol Line being an important illustration. This innovative service granted touch the Best Marketing Campaign award at the 10th annual instalment of the CommsMEA Awards in Dubai, which is specialized in the field of telecommunications and information technology. Touch had launched the Tawasol Line for the main purpose of enhancing communication among displaced Syrians residing in Lebanon and to bridge the communications gap between them and their families at home, at a discounted price.

Touch also received the golden award for The Text If You Can Campaign which was recognized as the best corporate social responsibility initiative at the Effie Mena Awards. Text If You Can is an idea proposed by J. Walter Thompson and implemented in partnership with YASA, a NGO for road safety. By aligning influencers such as celebrities, opinion leaders and the media, touch embarked on a scientific mission to discredit the multitasking myth.

Furthermore, during the Royal Grand Finale Ceremony of the 10th edition of Tatweej's for Arab Business Leaders and Leading organizations in the Arab region, touch was crowned with the Red Purple Scarf adorned with the Golden Medallion under the category of Excellence & Quality. This honorary award came as part of Tatweej's initiative which aims to recognize leaders, managerial figures and businessmen in the Arab world for all their professional achievements and successes which reflected positively on the region's economy and development.

Since its inception 10 years ago, touch has strived to offer the best there is to offer to the Lebanese community. Its consumer-centric strategy, innovative backbone and philanthropic nature have made the company an ultimate success, one that will continue to develop and improve.