Looking to the near future, the telecom industry is on the horizon of a very promising rise of next grade telecom or as the market experts prefer to name it 'the next generation networks' that will be focusing on digital transformation, customer centricity, and moving toward end-to-end quality of experience.
And by leveraging the edge computing and cloud native core that will be uplifted by the advanced capability of 5G, NB-IoT and AI to enable new opportunities for a wide range of sectors in the UAE. This will certainly improve the operational efficiency and enable many of the smart city initiatives to the next level of connected smart cities.
At the same time of core networks evolution, the fixed networks also in the steps of entering a new area of NGPON, will be capable of providing 10gps connectivity to each home in the country giving fixed users super speeds for multiple broadband services like the gaming services and enabling 8k-16k video streaming.
This next grade of telecom services will touch the entire network not only on the service level but also at core functions and platforms by giving users and governments a super network that will transform every aspect of life. Our role in the telecom industry is to orchestrate and calibrate the upgrades on the access, transport and core networks at the same or required rate to ensure full readiness and support availability at the right time when each technology emerges and matures.
The biggest challenge not only for du, but also for all telecoms globally, is to figure out the right formula to move from the traditional services that telcoms is providing to significantly improve the revenues of what we call the "adjacencies" - which are the ICT revenues from services that mimic that from the Hyperscalers and the ICT service providers. Furthermore, our regular connectivity business needs a lot more tailored services that are made to measure the business needs and provide a customised product over mobile and fixed network, this will serve a wide range of sectors from broadband, gaming, cloud services, IoT for home and SME.
Even though Covid-19 was a challenge we all faced in 2020, as it changed the way people work especially with the introduction of 'work from home' and the remote learning concept, it was a time to prove our smart investment in the last years and our ability to deal with the business of unusual.
Our network is designed to be scalable, in a very short time we managed to expand our network in order to meet to absorb the potential growth and to support the traffic surge due to the lockdown situation. As remote learning came into effect, we have observed a significant increase (300 per cent) across telework/collaboration tools as well as e-learning tools. Also, we were in close coordination with our partners who are making remote learning possible to give the best experience over their platforms.
Saleem AlBlooshi, Chief Technology Officer, EITC
Future telecom trends
Based on global studies and our data insights, we expect a couple of telecom trends that will take the lead in the near future that are linked to the current situation. We have mobility as a mandate for new type of business and by considering the shift from governments and enterprise to adapt the remote work concept as permanent trend even after Covid-19.
Besides the 5G, fixed wireless access, and next generation fibre network for our fixed services, we have already entered our cloudification journey. In this journey, we are targeting to enable our multi-cloud strategy - via both the public cloud and also to utlise our edge cloud. Furthermore, future telecom trends include the utilisation of machine learning, AI, and robotics that will add additional value to the sector.
Even before the pandemic, consumer behaviour was steadily changing as the impact of digital technologies continued to transcend communities, cities, and countries. However, recent events have not only accelerated a host of trends that were already apparent - they have also driven the emergence of entirely new preferences. For instance, cashless transactions and online services usage were steadily rising, while remote working and learning and the need for collaborative tools evolved almost overnight. Together, these factors are having a massive impact on operators and the entire telecom sector because of the essential nature of related services and solutions for the whole society.
Simplifying and streamlining processes, creating compelling propositions for customers, and enhancing interactions and experiences are now simultaneous priorities - for citizens, businesses, industries, and countries. Therefore, all within must continue adapting to changing and increasing demands and expectations, bringing resources, expertise, and infrastructure together with new and emerging technologies to ensure sustained robustness, resilience, and competitiveness.
Opportunities from 5G
Following the rollout of this transformative technology, the impact of 5G on the telecoms landscape will be revolutionary in the years ahead. Having begun our 5G preparations in 2016 and successfully launching commercially in May 2019, the transformation implications concerning the telecoms landscape are already apparent.
Thanks to the network slicing and mobile edge computing 5G capabilities that will enable a wide range of enterprise use cases in the near future like the critical IoT, virtualized network as a services, collaborated robots, connected vehicles and lifesaving applications. This will help enterprise sector to reduce their operational cost, and improve the overall efficiency by relying on the operator network based on offered service level agreements for each use case.
We are targeting to have nationwide coverage in line with our 2023-24 timeframe. Nevertheless, we have already reached an excellent milestone of covering close to 80 per cent of the heavily populated areas in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Success here will undoubtedly contribute to the transformation of the UAE's telecoms sector.
The rise of OTT
Competition is a fundamental element of business in every sector. As brands attempt to build their customer base and expand their operations, competitors are always vying to do the same with their own products and services. As previously mentioned, there will always be challenges - and a part of this entails competing with other players. While OTT services have grown in popularity, so too have those offered by telecoms. With demands continuously changing and new technologies entering the market space, the telecom will, for better or worse, be impacted regularly from now on.
Business outlook for 2022
The business outlook for this period is certainly promising for the telecom industry as a whole. While there will always be challenges in any period, the next year and beyond will also come with possibilities and potential. At present, the industry's popularity is perhaps at its highest ever point due to the efforts and contributions of telcos during the unprecedented difficulties of the past year. Therefore, 2021-22 is an opportunity to continue building relationships, developing infrastructure and capabilities, and introducing new technologies, services, and solutions.
The benefits of digital are now apparent throughout society. Together with approaching post-pandemic and new digital eras, this means new partnership and expansion opportunities will present themselves. Furthermore, every sector will need new capabilities or require continued support and assistance - and we will see a thriving telecom industry throughout this period.
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