du was honored and excited to accept the awards for Best Smart City Initiative and Best Cloud Provider at this year’s Telecom Review Summit. du was chosen by an independent panel of 15 experience industry veterans to receive the Best Smart City Initiative Award at the Telecom Review Excellence Awards ceremony. Osman Sultan, du’s chief executive officer accepted the awards in front of his executive management team and other ICT luminaries in attendance.
The summit, now in its fourth year, brought together the best telecom and ICT industry leaders in the region at the Intercontinental Hotel in Dubai Festival City.
Commenting on the Awards ceremony, Osman Sultan, chief executive officer at du said : "Proceeding from our deep belief that telecom companies play a major role in the future development of our nation and propagating the UAE knowledge economy, we endeavor to offer innovative ICT services and leading digital infrastructure solutions that will lay a solid foundation for the smart city. We are pleased to be recognised with the Smart City Initiative award – a testament to our efforts during 2016 to make Dubai the smartest city in the world. du is keen to continue in our cooperation with our strategic partners to develop a full range of smart services and cloud solutions, which will contribute significantly in spreading smart city services throughout the region. At du, we are proud of our progress thus far; it has inspired us to continue harnessing future potential until our goal of living in a society completely connected by smart applications and the Internet of Things."
From infrastructure to next generation services, du is leveraging flexible Cloud models and making innovative solutions available to SMEs, enterprises, government institutions and global service providers. In terms of its prowess in the cloud, du’s Cloud Infrastructure as a Service is transforming the ICT landscape, while securing the government web presence and delivering cross-platform content.
du plays a pivotal role in Dubai’s evolution into a Smart City. Beyond its strategic partnership with the Government’s Smart Dubai Office, du continues to invest in city-wide initiatives to transform Dubai into the Smartest City in the World, driving unparalleled quality of life for its residents and visitors using Smart Technology. Some of these include enhancing dynamic connectivity through solutions that include fleet management, which use Machine to Machine technology, as well as the ongoing roll out of WiFi UAE.
du is driven by innovation and finding technologies that bring only the biggest benefits for the people, businesses and government of the UAE.
The SEA-ME-WE 5 Consortium recently announced the completion of the 20,000-kilometer subsea cable infrastructure developed by a 16-nation consortium on schedule. UAE telecom provider, du, is a stakeholder in the project which is in-line with the UAE National Vision 2021 and the National Agenda of sustainable environment and infrastructure. The UAE is an emerging business hub in the region and investments from du were instrumental in bringing SEA-ME-WE 5 to the UAE.
This submarine cable system won the Project of the Year – Subsea award at the Global Carrier Awards in Paris in November 2016 for its technological and managerial excellence.
"As a leading smart city enabler, du takes into serious consideration any opportunity to improve the ICT infrastructure in the UAE, not only to benefit its intrinsic business requirements, but also to benefit the UAE as a whole. Our investment in the SEA-ME-WE 5 consortium is a reflection of our commitment to maintain and strengthen our position as a trusted partner for our customers who demand the highest quality solutions when it comes to their ICT needs," said Farid Faraidooni, Chief Operations Officer.
The growth of mobile data and internet usage in the UAE is driving the demand for higher-capacity infrastructure. du chose to be a stakeholder in the project to help support its capacity demand in the domestic and regional markets. This is a consortium of some of the largest telecom operators in the world, allowing UAE enterprise customers access into those markets. du's investment in SEA-ME-WE 5 will enhance the resilience of its network and ultimately support both customer and community satisfaction.
The SME-ME-WE 5 subsea cable system, spanning 16 countries from Southeast Asia through the Middle East to Western Europe, is a technological breakthrough which marks a global communications milestone. It is designed with a capacity of 24 Terabits per second on 3-fiber pairs, fully capable of accommodating the future demand of data from other bandwidth-intensive applications such as enterprise data exchange, internet TV and online gaming.
The SEA-ME-WE 5 submarine cable's advanced 100Gbps technology is expected to meet the quadrupling of bandwidth demand between Europe and Asia. In contrast with other submarine cable systems, the SEA- ME-WE 5's main endpoints are carrier-neutral/open Points-of-Presence (PoPs) and not just Cable Landing Stations (CLS).
The subsea cable system, which was implemented with over $500 million from consortium members, was designed to enable the latest upgradable 100Gbps technology, further enhancing the diversity and resilience of the heavily-utilized route between Asia and Europe.
Members of the SEA-ME-WE 5 Consortium: Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Limited (BSCCL), China Mobile International (CMI), China Telecom Global (CTG), China United Network Communications Group Company Limited (CU), Djibouti Telecom (DT), Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (du), Myanmar Post and Telecom (MPT), Ooredoo, Orange, PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia International (Telin), Saudi Telecom Company (STC), Singapore Telecommunications Ltd (Singtel), Sparkle, Sri Lanka Telecom PLC (SLT), Telecom Egypt (TE), Telekom Malaysia Berhad (TM), TeleYemen, Turk Telekom International (TTI) and Trans World Associates (Pvt) Limited Pakistan (TWA).
du has successfully tested Nokia's Time and Wavelength Division Multiplexing Passive Optical Network (TWDM-PON) innovative fiber technology in its lab, reaching aggregate speeds of 40 Gbps.
Nokia's TWDM-PON technology expands the capacity of du's fiber access network by providing additional wavelengths over a fiber which collectively deliver up to 40 Gbs. This enables significantly higher upload and download speeds. Thanks to Nokia's unique next-generation Passive Optical Network solution, du can efficiently upgrade its existing GPON network to the next-generation with XGS-PON or TWDM-PON on a single fiber.
Currently offering 1 Gbps services in the UAE, du continues to innovate and invest in technologies that will offer its business and residential customers the speed and quality of service they expect. The rise in bandwidth will help du improve the customer experience significantly for residential customers and launch new services for the highly demanding business customers.
Jasim AlAwadi, vice president - Network Infrastructure & Services, at du, comments: "With the increased use of smart devices and bandwidth-hungry applications by our subscribers, the demand for an ultra-fast network also keeps increasing. Keeping our customers on the top of our mind, we pioneer by introducing market-leading technologies to them. Our successful test of Nokia's TWDM-PON is proof of this. We are confident that our cooperation will take the country's journey toward IoT and smart cities to the next level."
Rima Manna, head of the du customer team at Nokia, says: "With its current strategy, du is very well positioned to evolve its network now and in the long term, and meet the customer needs of one of the leading broadband countries in the world. With this latest successful test, we reiterate our commitment to du in its endeavor to launch truly innovative services for its subscribers across the country."
du is the strategic partner of Smart Dubai for Smart Dubai Platform. The Smart Dubai Platform will be developed and implemented by du, in an ambitious and unique public-private partnership model that will set new benchmarks for cross-sector partnerships for smart city initiatives globally.
Speaking to Telecom Review, Hany Fahmy Aly - EVP, Enterprise Business, du, touched on du's commitments to business in the UAE, highlighting the operator's expanding enterprise portfolio which spans cloud services to cybersecurity.
Can you highlight some of the best solutions/offerings du has for the enterprise sector that stand out from other operators?
Today, we are looking beyond connectivity. We want to be an ICT partner for our customers. Traditionally, we used to sell just basic connectivity, whether it was mobile or fixed. Now, we have transformed and become what we call a 'value added ICT provider' to our clients. We have expanded into a whole new area of managed services, and started from simple infrastructure as a service, to cloud as a service, to security as a service; we have gone up the value chain significantly.
We are the partner for the federal government, for example. We host the federal network on the federal government's behalf, which is a very big project for us. We also recently partnered with a number of banks such as Emirates NBD in Dubai and ADIB (Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank) in Abu Dhabi. We provide them with a full suite of managed services.
We offer our banking clients a range of solutions: starting from simple mobility, ensuring they have devices with a mobile device management solution that can control their private vs. personal spending. This comes with a security layer on top to manage the security of the terminals that their employees need to make sure they're not hacked of sensitive information.
We also provide protective DDoS services (distributed denial of service) - we protect networks against these attacks. We have a very strong cybersecurity center, which appeals to a lot of our partners. We even host our partners' datacenters, which for banks, is a very mission critical activity - the heart of any bank. At the end of the day, the most important thing we provide is reliability - reliable, consistent services, making sure that we are fast responding to our customers' needs. Last quarter, a number of banks were hit by cyber attacks in the UAE. The banks which were under out network were not affected.
What are the differences in working with banks compared to working with the government?
Different industries have different requirements. Banks, in general, have similarities with the government of course, such as data integrity, as well as the need to keep services up-and-running reliably. For example, if you go to an ATM machine, you expect it to be operating 24 hours a day. In today's world, where you can bank through SMS, or calling a call center, or online, making sure services are available 24 hours is very important. That's where you see some similarities between banks and government.
In terms of the differences, the most obvious is the different security requirements and also different solution requirements. For banks you might have a client that is looking to have his branch connected, while the government is more about making sure that services are available to various government entities and making sure that everything is internally connected and safe.
Tell us specifically about your SME focus. What are some key offerings for the SME sector?
We are very successful in the SME market (small to medium enterprises). We have more SME customers outside of our fixed network footprint than we have inside our fixed footprint. This means that the services and solutions that we provide to our customers in general are better, and therefore, they have the choice because there is more than one provider outside the fixed network. In general, we provide SMEs both mobile services and fixed services, and the reach that we have is very strong in the mobile area. Our strategy is to be a 'one stop shop' for SMEs.
If you are an SME, you don't have a sophisticated IT buying department; you have limited cash. For example, if you're a restaurant owner or if you're a small trading company owner with excess cash in the bank, would you use that cash to hire an IT manager or would you use that cash to buy an extra product to help your business? The priority is the extra product. That's why we are your IT manager. Our customer can come to us for solutions end-to-end. We can help SMEs by hosting their website. We can also offer connectivity, devices, whatever you want in terms of connectivity and applications. In terms of devices, we can help you support your data without any upfront fees. We conserve the cash for you, and turn CAPEX into OPEX for a very small monthly fee, enabling you to set up your business and go from day one.
We use the scale of du to offer this. When I buy for my own internal use, I also have the pricing power to buy for my clients. We leverage our scale to help our SME customers. Dependent on your size as an SME, we have dedicated account managers and we also have a dedicated call center serving SMEs. We've had this from the very beginning.
What we define as an SME is any company starting from one person up to medium size companies with up to 50 employees or more. We have a very large spectrum of clients. Surprisingly, we find more and more small clients willing to adopt cloud technology because they are always on the go. They want more flexibility. They are then able to access their information regardless of where they might be. They also want that with security, because if you're a small SME, reliability is very important. If they get hacked, they lose everything. If someone takes down your website for a couple days, that's mission critical. Therefore, SMEs are fond of our security solutions as well as our productivity solutions. We have partnered with Microsoft for Office 365, selling hundreds of licenses every month to SMEs.
What role does du play in attracting more businesses to the UAE or helping businesses to get started in the UAE?
Our role is to enable business. Our mission for du Enterprise is to provide world class connectivity and ICT solutions for customers with great value and superior customer service. We see our role as part of Dubai and the UAE to be an enabler of business. If you want to set up your company in the country, other than documentation, the most important thing to set up is ICT infrastructure and that's where we come in. We try to make the process very easy and also try to make it easy for companies to grow.
How will the Smart Dubai Platform, of which du helped to establish, enable businesses to operate more effectively?
Dubai was already a very smart city before the Smart Dubai Platform. It has advanced transaction technology; you can do parking through SMS, and you can pay your bills online or through mobile, etc. Dubai was a very smart city compared to others. What sets the smart city initiative apart is that unlike other cities where they focus on specific things, for example, focusing on parking or automating ports. Here in Dubai, the smart concept is a big proposition - it includes everything. The ideas and the vision of His Highness are not for Dubai to be a smart city, but for it to be the smartest city. That means instead of having silos of smartness, we need to make sure everything is connected. That creates a lot of opportunities for new business because suddenly you have all this information and you can do more things at the same time. Ultimately, it will make things faster, more convenient and reliable.
Can you share some of du's plans for 2017 for the enterprise sector?
Our plan for 2017 is predominantly to do things faster. We want to continue to improve on our speed to deliver to our customers and the speed of which we rollout new projects. We want to endlessly improve our customer experience and be the first to market with new innovations.
For example, we were the first to market with security services and the first to market with cloud services like Microsoft Office, and also first to market with zero upfront plans for mobile. That means we have to work on being fast and serving customers well.