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Cablegate: U.S. Firm Interested in Call Centers in Jordan

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 AMMAN 004786

SIPDIS

USTR FOR NOVELLI/SAUMS
USDOC FOR 4520/ITA/MAC/ONE/PTHANOS
USDOC FOR TECHNOLOGY ADMINISTRATION - KEN FERGUSON
OPIC FOR TARBUSH/COWAN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: BEXP ECPS ECON IS JO OPIC
SUBJECT: U.S. FIRM INTERESTED IN CALL CENTERS IN JORDAN

1. (u) Summary. In an initiative that it sees both as
a promising business venture and an element of support
for regional peace, the U.S. firm Stream International
is seriously looking at Jordan as a site for an
international call service center that would employ over
300 technically skilled Jordanian workers. Modeled on a
venture in northern Ireland, the initiative could
eventually be expanded to the West Bank and Gaza.
Stream says that if it irons out some technical details,
including telecommunications support, the project could
be up and running next year. End Summary.

2. (u) Craig Weinstein, Director of Corporate Services
of Massachusetts-based Stream International, visited
Amman in early August to assess the potential of Jordan
as a site for one of Stream's international call service
centers (call centers). Stream, a subsidiary of the
U.S. electronics giant Solectron, currently has such
centers in 24 U.S. and foreign locations, including
Londonderry and Mumbai. These facilities serve clients
that include companies like Dell, Hewlett Packard,
Microsoft and Morgan Stanley by providing centers that
customers can call or email for technical and other
service support. In Jordan's case, a center would
service Arabic-speaking callers from the region as well
as English-speaking callers from North America and
Europe.

3. (u) Weinstein said that his company's interest in
Jordan and the region more broadly was an outgrowth of
its association with peace through economic development
initiatives in northern Ireland. He cited Senator
Mitchell and the U.S. American International Group (AIG)
as supporters of this work. (The Ambassador had
received an introductory letter for Weinstein from
American International Group Vice Chairman Frank
Wisner.) Weinstein said that if the project was
successful in Jordan, he foresaw similar operations in
the West Bank and Gaza, the political environment
permitting.

4. (u) Weinstein, whose visit was coordinated by the
palace's economic division and the local Century
Investment Group, told the Ambassador and econ chief how
he was impressed by the infrastructure he found in
Jordan. This included a favorable business climate, a
good telecommunications infrastructure, and the
availability of educated, technically-inclined and
English-speaking potential employees. The project
involves a substantial training component for 300-400
potential employees. This includes training in call
center management as well as in the technical subjects
on which employees would provide phone support. While
further discussions were needed, Weinstein thought
Stream could move relatively quickly, with
groundbreaking later this year and a start-up in the
first half of 2003. The next steps will be discussed at
a Solectron board of directors meeting in September and
a conference in November at Ulster University that will
review linkages between northern Ireland and the Middle
East.

5. (u) Among the issues requiring further discussion
is access to telecommunications. Weinstein said he had
had positive discussions with the Minister of
Telecommunications and Jordan Telecom (JT) about using
(JT's) fiber optic links to Europe to carry the volume
of telecom traffic initially expected. Eventually,
however, calls would have to be managed through a
company-wide voice over IP network. Voice over IP,
however, is not currently permitted in Jordan in order
to protect Jordan Telecom's international gateway
monopoly. Although the issue is being studied by both
Jordan Telecom and by the new telecom regulator, this
could therefore require some policy innovation.
However, Weinstein did not think this would be a major
obstacle, as a new closed network would not detract from
the volume of Jordan Telecom's traffic. We also called
to his attention the fiber optic backbone project being
developed by Seattle-based Real Time Communications.
Berry

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