Exclusive Interviews

Tarek Saadi Head of Ericsson GCC and Pakistan: Advanced markets within region Middle East such as the GCC markets are now gearing up to prepare for 5G where IoT will be an essential part of our daily life.

Connected cars have been available for a number of years, but mainly as new cars in the premium segment. Now, Swedish telecom operator Telia announced that it aims to connect cars up to 15 years old with a cloud-based solution. This exemplifies the opportunity for an operator to expand from data connectivity to offering smart data to an ecosystem of partners - creating innovative service offerings for car owners.

Telia's ambition is to transform into a new generation telco, where applications and customer solutions have an important complementary role to traditional network services. Their connected car offering, Telia Sense, is central to this solution. According to Telia's research, simplifying ownership is a main concern for car owners, and connectivity can deliver on this requirement. However, the value of owning a connected car goes beyond connectivity, as it can be linked to an ecosystem of services relevant to car ownership.

A survey revealed that enhancing the car ownership experience is the main reason cited for owning a connected car, with cost reduction, increased control and safety, and greater convenience also cited as major factors. Car owners interact with their car in many different ways, which presents opportunities to offer a variety of services at different points in time.

Consumers also want more value from their cars. Another survey of car owners indicated that interest can be divided into three areas: connectivity, car control and offerings from service partners.

Ecosystem partners can reach drivers and passengers with new services and information, building on customer relationships and increasing their brand value. This is exemplified in the Telia Sense case with the objectives of initial partners, such as Bilprovningen, Bilia and Viking.

Folksam, a customer-owned mutual insurance company in Sweden, considers digital transformation to be an important focus area for the company going forward. A usage-based insurance offering is one example of how digitalization can enable new opportunities.

Folksam has created an offering called "Köra Säkert" (Safe Driving) to incentivize customers to drive more safely. This offering is based on a pay-how-you-drive concept, where the customer can influence their car insurance premium.

When signing up for the service, the customer receives a small LED indicator that can be mounted on the car's dashboard to inform the driver if they are speeding. A red, yellow or green light provides feedback to the driver on whether they are sticking to the speed limit or not. This indicator communicates with the telematics unit, and an app provides feedback that can encourage safer and more environmentally-friendly driving.

The long-term goal is to save lives and reduce the number of traffic accidents; the incentive could also result in a discount of up to 20 percent on drivers' insurance premiums.

Another possibility enabled by digitalization is proactive servicing. Auto inspection company, Bilprovningen, is aiming to enhance the customer relationship through providing proactive services, such as reminders of inspection times, as well as alerts relevant to car owners.

Automotive service company, Bilia, also aims to provide service offerings like car diagnostics and proactive car maintenance, as well as tailored customer offerings and promotions.

Road assistance company, Viking, sees opportunities for a deeper and proactive customer relationship with improved service offerings enabled by digitalization.

"Internet of Things (IoT) presents new opportunities for mobile operators to leverage their core assets and move up the value chain, through providing intelligent platforms, facilitating ecosystem collaboration and becoming a transformation partner to other industries. Advanced markets within region Middle East such as the GCC markets are now gearing up to prepare for 5G where IoT will be an essential part of our daily life," said Tarek Saadi, Head of Ericsson GCC and Pakistan.

At a recent press conference in Dubai hosted by Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, the key word #GenMobile was introduced by Aruba’s Middle East and Turkey Regional Director, Mr. Ammar Enaya. The term refers to employees defined by their preference for mobility both in terms of the devices they use and their approach to work. Aruba, which prides itself on providing smarter networks that are insightful and predictable to accelerate the transition to smart buildings, held the press conference to extend its expertise in preparing IT firms and telcos for the future of enterprise mobility.

In his presentation to the press, Ammar spoke with passion about #GenMobile, the label belonging to those who own three or more connected devices (62%), feel most productive when working from home (57%), and demand reliable internet. This growing demographic is no longer limited to the static connectivity setup in the 90s between a desktop PC, an IT server and a set of printers, he explained.

Technologies that we are accustomed to in our social lives are making their way into the enterprise. Therefore, there is no better time than now for IT and telco networking teams to think differently, said Ammar. These big waves of technology shifts in the market – the consumerization of computing devices and the applications they enable – are beyond the control of IT and telco organizations.

To prepare IT and telco firms for the changes in the IT landscape – the uncontrollable nature of mobile, IoT and cloud, and the impact of the decisions made by other lines of business leaders outside of IT – Ammar laid out Aruba’s requirements.

It is Aruba’s firm belief that the next sets of best of breed IT organizations will be defined partially by how fast they find solutions to issues, such as the arrival of high density mobile devices and the unpredictable nature of mobile apps. Legacy network operators will not be able to keep up with new demands for faster deployment, configuration and troubleshooting, the company predicts.

Aruba works closely with IT organizations and telecom operators to help them move towards being ‘smarter’. The word ‘smart’, however, is a “tricky word to define,” says Ammar. Speaking to Telecom Review, he said, “In my opinion, ‘smart’ means ‘always on’. As long as there is no off-time in a network, then it is ‘smart’. Smart also means that you can connect to the internet at any time, and also means there is some intelligence in the network that will allow you to work faster and be more productive.”

The most effective way to connect to the internet, according to Ammar, is through wireless. Aruba’s core is wireless, and the company strives to maintain a lead with the technology. “We believe that we are early adapters of smart buildings – we help buildings to be smart through our own solutions by installing stable devices and secure devices that will allow them to always be connected to the internet in efficient and smart ways,” said Ammar.

Catering to IT organizations, Aruba is a trusted cloud provider, which, according to Ammar, is a more simplified method of data storage for smaller enterprises than hosting a data center. There are two types of businesses in the IT industry, explained: one is where businesses build their own data center, which keeps their data centralized, removing the need for cloud storage. Money and location is needed for this option, which is justified by heavy data usage.

The remainder of the market often prefers to use cloud. “If you are in the retail industry with shops across the country or globe, then cloud is a good option for you, because in this case, you don’t need a data center in each location,” said Ammar.

“You can use either the public or private cloud to connect to a data center. In this case, Aruba helps customers to have an all-in-one package which will give you your wireless needs and your security needs all together. This allows you to connect to the cloud in a simple and secure way, because at the end, all you want is the same user experience.”

For instance, if you are in a company’s headquarters or in a remote branch, Ammar explained, you don’t need to change anything in your mobile phone, computer or handheld device, because they will all join and connect automatically to Aruba’s cloud. This is part of the simplicity message Aruba is delivering in the market, and “it works fantastically”.

Aruba also caters specifically to the telco sector, Ammar told Telecom Review. The first and most common solution that Aruba offers is its “hotspot solution”. The idea behind this solution is helping operators dominate and acquire more locations in the market so that they can market their GSM network and WiFi network, Ammar explained.

“At the same time, through this solution, we help operators reduce the cost of data usage. If the operator spends X amount of money to connect people over their 3G, usually the WiFi is about one tenth of the cost – the same data utilization over WiFi for the operator compared to data utilization over towers and GSM. We help operators save money and we increase the capacity for the user to connect with speed, and more importantly, we free the tower to do the thing that makes more money for the operator, which are phone calls.”

Additionally, Aruba helps its operator customers to build proper mobile solutions, including wired and wireless security – all of the things that the company also does for its IT customers, “because operators fall under the umbrella of IT for us”.

The third thing Aruba does for operators is managed services. Aruba uses the operator as a “sell-through”. Aruba essentially tells the operator, ‘Go and market your internet and bundle our solution with it.’ The operator can bundle it with cloud, or can bundle it with enterprise. “When you lease a building, you lease the internet, and within the same lease, operators can add our switches and routers, wireless, software management and security,” said Ammar.

Providing a prediction for how mobility will increase in the coming years, Aruba has highlighted IoT as game-changer for both the IT and telco sectors. IT managers everywhere are grappling with an onslaught of new “things” coming on their networks, according to Aruba. While security is top of mind, beyond this, IT must automate the security process to quickly accommodate these new devices and scale their networks, the company noted in a release.

Aruba further noted that one of the important challenges facing enterprise IT is keeping up with the rapid pace of innovation. With new mobile technologies emerging, users wanting more flexible options in the workplace, and the increasing number of IoT devices looming on the horizon, enterprises need to move quickly to ensure that their networks are prepared. For these reasons, one of the key trends for 2017, according to Aruba, will be a move to integrating third-party applications into the network and, as a result, a move toward more open, software-based platforms.

The discovery of electricity, whoever that should be rightly attributed to, forever changed the way we see the world. Today’s most critical inventions have sprung from manipulation of the natural phenomena of positive and negative electricity. Since the 18th Century, our world has been electric in business.

One such manipulation that has positively impacted humankind on an unparalleled scale is connectivity.

Connecting man-to-man, machine-to-machine, man-to-machine, and machine-to-man has forcibly catapulted the human race into a new era of communication, work, process and identity.
Connectivity began with the first phone call made by its inventor, Alexander Graham Bell, when he made a call to Thomas Watson, his assistant, on March 10, 1876.

Since then, connectivity has continued to evolve; we’ve come a long way with over 10 billion connections made around the world today. We expect 100 billion connections in the next 10 years, thanks to the internet of things (IoT), and to the increasing speed and capacity of connectivity.
All this connectivity is transforming the way we live, work, entertain ourselves and do business.

Furthermore, the digitization has brought disruptive changes to almost every aspect of society. With all this change upon us, what is the next big opportunity for the ICT industry over the next 10 years?

While we can’t predict everything that’s to come, we can accurately anticipate that certain technologies will be catalysts for transformational change and serve as drivers of adoption and growth. These catalysts include cloud computing, big data, analytics, AI, IoT and so on. Thanks to the combination of these technologies and data on consumer habits online, we can identify some of the significant growth opportunities for all industries moving forward.

The first one is video. 

Since the first movie hit the big screen in 1896 with ‘Arrival of a Train’, humanity’s appetite for video content continues to grow. While viewing habits have changed and consumption has shifted to smaller, more personalized screens, video content today accounts for more than 70 percent of network traffic and over 23 percent of the time spent online.

And it continues this burgeoning. By 2020, it is expected that 90 percent of internet traffic will be video. This is down to our relentless urge to consume video, on-demand and uninterrupted.

The numbers are mind-blowing and companies that can take advantage of this opportunity will become business leaders. As we all know, for video business, content is the king. As such, Huawei launched its cloud-based video platform, MuchTV, which aggregates best in class content from various providers and connects to operators’ networks.

As of now, there are five operators in the region that harness this platform to launch mobile video service. While the user-base for these services currently stands at around three million, it is expected to reach eight million by the end of 2017.

Although broad consumption of video has mainly been for entertainment, the applications for video across verticals are immense. The reliance on video will be fundamental to many industries in the future, from safe city to civil engineering developments, right down to visual inspection of infrastructure such as bridges, buildings and pipelines. This means immense opportunities for the ICT industry.

The second big opportunity is “verticals”, as the ICT technology evolution had touched all other industries, nowadays the buzzwords are IoT and cloud.

IoT will play a vital role in the future of a connected world. It will greatly improve efficiency across various industries. For example, all the manufacturing processes will be connected – which is referred to as “industry 4.0”.

IoT will also impact every aspect of our life, as our cities become smarter, with cars driving themselves and drones delivering goods to our doorsteps.

Cloud is also changing the industry, during the past 10 years OTT companies unveiled the new cloud era, which provides agile and low cost cloud services; we can call it cloud 1.0. Over the next 10 years, it will evolve to cloud 2.0, where all vertical industries are shifted to cloud, the Industry Cloud.

By 2025, more than 85% of enterprise applications will be shifted to the cloud, and this evolution will only grow further in the future.

All of these new opportunities and services will require the adoption of the next generation networks – 5G. This new technology boasts massive connections of Millions/cell, effectively connecting all vehicles, drones, and fleets. 10Gbit/s peak rate can make VR/AR a reality. 1ms latency makes massive self-piloting much safer and more reliable.

As a technology leader, Huawei has been a driver in pushing this innovation forward, and continues to pioneer, especially 5G standard developments, with the aim of being a key contributor to 5G innovation and ushering in a revolutionary era of connectivity.

I believe that the Middle East region will become one of the first adopters of 5G technology, as this is one of the unique parts of the world with the highest mobile penetration rates. In addition, the region’s massive appetite for on-demand content channels, such as YouTube and Netflix, it is only natural then for the region to embrace the latest and greatest mobile technology.

Looking at the future, the opportunities are astonishing. However, we need to work solidly today. For Huawei, two key areas are the primary focus: innovation and the ecosystem.

We have invested heavily on research & development during last 10 years, with circa 10% of its revenues being spent on R&D and innovation. To date, Huawei’s investments in R&D have exceeded US $30 billion.

In the Middle East, we have set up joint innovation centers and labs, to stimulate innovation for this region. That’s the very reason why Huawei was awarded “Best Vendor Innovation” by Telecom Review in 2016.

Ecosystem and partnerships play key roles in the coming decade, be it video, IoT, or Cloud. For example, MuchTV aims to aggregate more than 100 partners for providing video, music and games. Smart parking also requires partnership with vendors for censors, modules, application development. We will continue to build this ecosystem with our customers, partners, and share the benefit of the industry development.

The next 10 years will hold immense opportunities. Those opportunities belong to the trailblazers who have vision and foresight to march forward.

This will be a long march, as one famous idiom puts it ”if you want to go fast, walk alone; and if you want to go far, walk together”, Let us march forward together, to turn these opportunities into reality!

By Charles Yang, president, Huawei Middle East

With geolocation, mobile operators can find, determine and provide the exact location of a mobile phone (user) on their network. Geolocation is used in a variety of applications like troubleshooting and analytics, and opens up a whole range of possibilities for data monetization. In an interview with Telecom Review, Vicent Soler, EVP CTO Spain - Advanced RAN Studies, Astellia, talked about the importance of geolocation and its benefits.

Can you provide some concrete use cases of how network engineers can benefit from geolocation?
With geolocation, operators can have massive coverage maps and thereby it becomes much easier to identify any area with coverage holes, congestion or dropped calls. This allows network engineers to become much more efficient because they can focus network deployment and troubleshooting activities on these specific areas. Subsequently, this will have a concrete and positive impact on the subscriber experience.

Another relevant benefit of geolocation information for network engineers is that it helps accelerate the introduction of new technologies. It can help them, for instance, to identify where there is a high concentration of VoLTE capable mobile phones in the network in order to reinforce 4G coverage in these areas to ensure an optimal VoLTE experience.

At the moment operators are looking for solutions to offload the traffic from the macro cells. In this case, having information about where subscribers are located is very useful to define the right position to deploy new small cells.

Can geolocation information reduce the need for drive tests?
Yes, definitely. This is clearly one of the main benefits that geolocation brings to operators. By actively using geolocation information operators can save a lot of money. From Astellia's experience, we have seen that operators can reduce up to 90 percent of their investments in drive tests. A drive test is very costly because it is a manual procedure - you have to send a team into the field to launch measurements at each location. Additionally, drive tests can only generate a dozen of tests and therefore do not reflect the whole customer experience. They do not provide historical data and data is not available instantaneously. Furthermore, drive tests are often inefficient at reproducing an issue reported by a subscriber since the tests are performed outdoors. However, 70 percent of voice calls and 80 percent of data sessions occur indoors. So, in contrast to geolocation, drive tests do not provide a complete view of the customer experience.

How can geolocation information enrich customer experience management (CEM)?
Geolocation information increases customer care efficiency. By positioning failed calls on a map and analyzing subscriber mobility during a call, customer care agents will better understand a complaining subscriber and can bring a solution more quickly, not only to the complaining customer but also to all the subscribers in that area.

Each element that provides additional information on the customer, provides a better knowledge of that customer and hence insights to improve their experience. Valuable subscriber mobility information can be used to geolocate high revenue generating areas (roamers, VoLTE subscribers, fleets, etc.), determine the customer experience of these hot spots and avoid potential loss of revenues due to a bad functioning network in these areas.

How does geolocation data contribute to new revenue generation?
With the current internet of things (IoT) revolution, asset tracking is becoming a revenue generating and value-added service offered by operators to their enterprise customers. So being able to provide massive geolocation of low-cost IoT devices without costly GPS functionality is a clear competitive differentiator.

Marketing can exploit geolocation data to create additional revenues by, for instance, engaging with a customer accessing a predefined area. Some examples of use cases are location-based advertising, analysis of population flows for road traffic information, helping shopping malls understand where their customers are coming from and the time they are spending at their premises, etc.

What makes Astellia's geolocation solution unique?
First of all, Astellia's solution offers the best-in-class geolocation accuracy. Its algorithm is based on trilateration, minimization of drive tests (MDT) and includes machine learning evolution. It goes much further than providing a visibility at cell level; it gives a precision as near as 100m and with an evolution to less than 50 m with our latest innovations. It allows operators to distinguish indoor and outdoor communications and characterize static vs subscribers in motion, all while preserving individual customer privacy.

Through its 3D geolocation feature, the solution can represent on a map distinct quality of service (QoS) and quality of experience (QoE) for each floor of a building. Astellia's massive geolocation solution provides geolocated QoE of popular apps such as video (YouTube) and social media (Facebook). This allows engineers to adapt capacity for high-trafficking value-generating areas.

Astellia's awarded solution gives a real-time, end-to-end vision (RAN to Core) of the network, 24x7, for 100 percent of the calls. It is the first solution on the market to geolocate IoT devices on LoRA networks. This future-proof solution is completely virtualized and big data ready, and is already adopted by several major operator groups such as Telefonica to better optimize their network and improve the customer experience.

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Digital Magazine

Dec 2016

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