Oct. 23--Mobile usage in the UAE is now upgraded from its conventional role to more smart solutions that define the life-style in the country.
The mobile industry itself is currently trying to analyse the reach of this potentially explosive growth which is gaining momentum in the UAE.
The second day of the GSMA sessions kicked off on Tuesday, with a panel discussion on the 'Future of Communications' which was moderated by Justin Springham, managing editor, Mobile World Live, GSMA. The session witnessed the presence of industry stalwarts like Bob Cai, vice-president of wireless network marketing, Huawei; Zahir Khoja, CEO of Mobile Payment Solutions, MasterCard and Smart Hub Inc; and Dr Saad (Dhafer) AlKahtani, member of the UN Broadband Commission for Digital Development.
On its concluding day of GSMA Mobile 360 Series-Middle East delegates were treated with a mix of industry stalwarts trying to probe the depths of telecom progress and steps needed to meet the challenges that telecom operators and OTTs (Over The Top) face in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region. The GSMA conference called on a larger partnerships among entities to reap the benefits from complementing each other.
"The future of the telecommunication industry is very promising in condition that operators treat the business differently and tackle many business models at a time; this can only be through smart partnership and outsourcing models. In short telecom operators in the region need to know by heart three major moves to tackle namely; develop new, differentiated business models; build leaner, more adaptive, modular and multifaceted models; acquire capabilities -- rethink processes, operations and even corporate DNA and winners will be those operators that are first to understand the need to make this transformation, said Dr Saad Alkahtani Kadi, CEO and founder of digital consultancy company (KDC) and member of the UN broadband commission.
Asked on mobile and mobile broadbrand growth in the Mena region, Dr Saad, said: "The mobile voice is reaching saturation in some countries like Saudi Arabia where it reaches 200 per cent penetration. The only potential growth will be on the broadband side however, it is going to be at a huge cost; management needs to know that the mobile data traffic within the next four-five years will grow 50 times while the revenue is nearly 1.8 times. A huge gap between the growth of data and the growth of revenue, as a result operators need to understand their customers better to find a way of different revenue streams to justify the huge investment needed to expand their infrastructure. The different key challenges will arise such as: expand the network capacity to meet the increasing demand; to control the Opex to be profitable; and to define new business models to create new revenue streams."
Similar sentiments of optimism were echoed by the Huawei official. "We observe great potential in the area of future communications especially in vertical sectors such as M2M, Smart City, etc. At Huawei, we estimate $2 trillion revenue for telecom operators worldwide by year 2020, more than two fold of that is today. From a vendor's perspective, the future of communications will be largely driven by mobile broadband. At Huawei, we have launched our mobile broadband vision and strategy -- SoftMobile. The key messages behind include ubiquitous broadband, no-edge experience, reduced cost and increased revenue (TCO and TVO optimisation)," added Cai.
Zahir Khoja, CEO of Mobile Payment Solutions (a joint venture between MasterCard and Smart Hub Inc), said: "We expect the communications landscape to be more competitive in the future, from the perspectives of price as well as the differentiation of value offered. In addition, there will be a major shift in the industry; consumers will be the main drivers as opposed to being driven as is the case at present. We have already witnessed the critical importance of social media tools in today's world, and we expect it to continue to play an even greater role in how we create awareness, educate audiences, drive trial, and ultimately encourage the formation of habits.
"Our strategy is simple: we're focused on providing the technology, expertise and flexibility needed to give consumers access to their payment accounts anytime, anywhere, any through any connected device," Khoja explained.
"The M360-ME offered a forum for C-Level leaders in the mobile industry and related verticals to discuss the key issues facing the ecosystem in the Middle East and North Africa. The conference agenda featured 15 sessions covering a wide range of topics including mobile broadband, LTE, NFC, connected cars and big data. In addition, the m360 event in Dubai hosted an invitation-only Leadership Forum for CEOs, government ministers and regulators from across the region. The Mobile Series 360-ME was supported by an impressive group of sponsors, including Ericsson, Etisalat, Huawei and Oooredoo," said Peter Lyons, director of Public Policy Middle East and Africa.