Etisalat GITEX presence this year
The UAE today is at the forefront of a digital driven economy with serious efforts focused on digitalization and globalization maintaining an ecosystem that is interconnected by digital platforms aided by a seamless flow of information and ideas. This has changed the way we conduct our business and live our lives. Etisalat is playing an instrumental role in making this digital dream a reality enabled by its robust network and infrastructure. 'Driving the Digital Future' is the theme this year at GITEX Technology Week that signifies the company's mission to participate in creating a connected future in UAE. Today, we are transitioning to a digital future with our offering of digitized solutions and services.

Our demonstrations this year will enable visitors to witness innovative ideas, concepts and solutions showcased on Etisalat's digital platforms and infrastructure. At Etisalat, we believe that creating a digital future is enabling a connected lifestyle for our customers as well as governments and businesses in the country.

The showcase of demonstrations and solutions at the Etisalat stand will offer a spectacular fusion of art and innovation. These digital technologies and solutions of the future enabled by our robust network are in line with the changing requirements of consumer lifestyle and the needs of corporate businesses across verticals.

When we say that innovation is at the core of Etisalat's operations, we do not only mean it in terms of telecom technologies. We are also paving the way for smarter digital solutions and applications that will mobilize people, businesses and the government sector for a better tomorrow.

Undoubtedly, GITEX is an established and important platform that has become the cornerstone of showcasing the prowess of IT, digital services and telecom providers from world over.

For Etisalat, it brings an immense responsibility in fulfilling our role in joining this digital journey and supporting the country's 'smart vision'. Reflective of this commitment, our demonstrations this year aims to create an unprecedented experience.

Etisalat Digital launch last year at GITEX, an insight into Etisalat journey so far and the future
The launch of Etisalat Digital last year was to actively contribute to the digital transformation market, which has a huge opportunity, especially in the UAE, for digital services. The government's push for innovation makes UAE an incredible destination for everything digital. The combination of Etisalat's vast experience in the field of connectivity with enhanced agility for digital innovation led to the formation of Etisalat Digital. The prime aim of the unit is to enable digital transformation of enterprise and government customers.

Today we are working on several important projects in digital health, security and smart cities. Dubai Expo 2020 is one of these projects that supports the UAE's long-term strategy in becoming the most sought-after global destination for trade, business and development. As the premier digital and telecommunications partner of Dubai Expo2020, we are currently working to deliver one of the fastest, smartest and best-connected places on earth during the global mega event.
We are involved in creating the infrastructure for the Expo site - enabling Expo 2020 Dubai to provide visitors and participants with a cutting-edge, immersive digital experience that brings the Expo themes to life for the 25 million expected visitors.

Another project that has set a benchmark as one of the most successful projects in the entertainment space in the region is the delivery of the digital infrastructure for Dubai Parks and Resorts. This included digital channels, different smart services (such as smart parking, smart ticketing, connected transportation and connected food and beverage), in addition to other smart solutions around the park such as video surveillance-as-a-service, real-time marketing and analytics.

Etisalat Digital is also actively working on several interesting projects and has engaged with industry experts as well as acquired digital assets and platforms including datacenters, cloud, digital and mobile payment, internet of things, big data and analytics engines. By providing platforms to its customers, Etisalat Digital enables businesses to get access to several technologies through a service model instead of having to invest in the whole platform. This accelerates the digital transformation of the businesses. The unit is further strengthened with 24X7 security operations centers and IoT command and control centers in Abu Dhabi and Dubai for fully managed solutions and proactive monitoring.

In the next 12 months, our focus will be to continue growing our digital business by tapping into potential market opportunities and securing key wins in various digital domains. In parallel with that, we will be enriching and expanding our digital solutions portfolio by introducing new digital propositions such as video-surveillance-as-a-service (VSaaS), mobile cashier and digital signage solutions. We will also complement our digital offerings with artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics capabilities presenting an extra value to our customers.

Etisalat Digital will help in the transformation from a connectivity provider to a digital player; this business unit is an agent of change driving our own digital transformation focusing on three main factors.

First is using what we sell to our customers by using Etisalat Digital assets, platforms and solutions to cater for Etisalat internal needs such as moving to the cloud, digitalization of customer touch points and applying AI, automation and IoT to optimize our own operating model.

Second, as we have adopted some new agile processes in Etisalat Digital which have proved successful and have helped us dramatically enhance the way we do things, exporting such processes and know-how to the rest of the company is essential to propagate the success.

Finally, as with any transformation, culture is key. Changing the company culture to be digital is a responsibility that we have taken starting from Etisalat Digital.

Etisalat's role in bringing digital innovation and contributing to the digital value chain in the country and regional/international markets
Growth, innovation and disruption are at its peak in the telecom industry. The sector has undergone immense change with the internet transforming the way we communicate, share information and the mobile phone setting the path for the digital future. The explosion of connected devices will impact telecommunications with IoT expected to add billions if not trillions of new connected data sources globally by 2020. The upsurge of all these devices will witness an astronomical growth in data volumes.

We are at a crossing point where digital becomes the norm and the age of connectivity is in our near vision. IoT is set to overtake mobile phones as the largest category of connected device by 2018. Between 2015 and 2021, the number of IoT connected devices is expected to grow 23 percent annually and of the 28 billion total devices that will be connected by 2021, close to 16 billion will be IoT devices.*

These trends have made the digital mobile consumer a critical audience segment pushing the telecom sector to make significant decisions. It is essential for the industry to understand these customers as greater functionality is driven through mobile devices. The mobile platform today is an enabler of digital transformation having the flexibility of bringing different technologies together to deliver unique services to customers and businesses of all sizes.

Today, we have the flexibility to create new products and services which reflect these in-demand technologies and will be a determining factor in success within the industry. Consumers harness smart technologies and it has radically impacted their interactions, lifestyles and workplaces creating a global community.

This connectivity will be enabled by IoT, which is a mega-trend connecting billions of everyday devices. These new technologies also present an attractive opportunity for telcos to offer B2B services especially in sectors like healthcare, retail, banking and automotive. Big data analytics will bring in a metamorphic effect as well across industries as it improves targeting and increases profitability.

Insight into your strategy to implement digital initiatives and bringing it closer to reality
Etisalat's network is its biggest asset and the large customer base is a competitive edge, our great opportunity is to capitalise with the right partnerships and re-engineer business processes in the digital world.

To develop innovative new business models and generate incremental revenues from the mobile ecosystem, we have devised a clear strategy for digital transformation. Innovation and new business development are key and will add to our existing core strengths to compete effectively. Digital transformation will have to start from within Etisalat enabling us to tap into the market opportunity and increase revenues.

Etisalat Digital established last year will help outline and address customer requirements in today's digital age. Expansion in machine to machine (M2M) capabilities is an important area and one that Etisalat has a strong presence. Furthermore, Etisalat has formed strategic partnerships on sustainable development applications to support businesses and government entities in the UAE. We are also well on track with our ambitious 5G mobile broadband plan by 2020, which will open the door for applications and uses that we cannot imagine today, and the new network will help us cope with the massive digital content explosion we anticipate in the next few years.

Etisalat roadmap on improving capabilities on the network with investments to provide high speed network and setting global benchmarks
Today, we cannot be perceived only as a company leading in providing best-in-class networks and connectivity but solutions and services that change and impact the lives of our customers. Telecommunications and the internet are now vital platforms, underpinning trade, industry, finance and personal communications worldwide.

Therefore, we need to look beyond telecom. Etisalat today has a plethora of services addressing requirements of various customer groups. However, with changing market environments, demand for smart services and networks will keep growing.  To remain relevant we need to be faster, better and offer more; in essence, agility is the key to success. New revenue opportunities are there for those to respond and those prepared to look for the partnerships that deliver added value.

In line with our journey, Etisalat is already playing in the arenas where it matters. At GITEX 2016, Etisalat demonstrated the region's fastest trial of 5G reaching speeds of 36Gbps. This contributed towards the design and standardization of 5G, enabling the acceleration of its deployment. This year, Etisalat will be setting yet another benchmark with a live demo reaching double the speed and giving visitors 4K and virtual reality experience in 5G.  Etisalat has continued its investments in deploying its fiber network. As a result, fiber to the home (FTTH) coverage has reached 93.28% of homes and 1.81m home pass coverage across the UAE, thus maintaining the UAE's position as a global leader in FTTH. 

Etisalat is on a growth path for the future, addressing demands and network requirements in the short as well as the long term. We have made investments to develop infrastructure and expand mobile and fiber optic networks across UAE. These investments will improve coverage across the country as well as prepare the network towards the deployment and requirements of 5G technologies.
Our network today is one of the widest, fastest and most advanced networks in the region.

This is mainly due to the continuous investments made in the last few years amounting to more than AED 31 billion. Etisalat has made more than 3 billion investments this year in infrastructure. Due to these continuous investments, the 3G network coverage has reached 99.58 percent while 4G LTE has covered 97.78 percent. FTTH penetration has grown over the last year to reach 93.28 percent. This has helped position UAE with the highest FTTH coverage in the world last year among all its global counterparts.

Etisalat roadmap for 5G
The next generation of connectivity will play a huge role in laying the foundation for smart city development by enhancing mobile network performance capabilities. 5G technologies and network have gained relevance largely due to the surging adoption of internet-enabled devices connected globally via the internet of things. With its implementation, 5G will provide opportunities for economic growth, education, employment, transportation and more.

Etisalat's investments in the future have led to growth and given the lead in network and the first to launch every new technology service to customers in the telecom industry. Today, we intend to continue this success by investing in 5G technologies to deploy in the network across the country.

These investments in the infrastructure have led to the implementation of the latest cloud computing technologies and solutions, setting the path for 5G network development. Etisalat also established the ecosystem for futuristic technologies like internet of things that will help manage all smart services and applications and are integral to create smart cities on the 5G network in the country.

There are advanced standards and technologies being added to the existing networks paving the way towards the development of 5G network. New technologies will be based on 5G and for any new technology to go live and be used mainstream; it must go through a series of trials and tests to determine its validity. For 5G, it's undergoing the trial stage currently, with operators and technology companies making aggressive investments in this space.

Etisalat plans to make advanced field tests this year in partnership with leading technology providers to achieve higher efficiency in addition to the highest possible speed.

Both parties have to work together during this trial process to help evolve the current network architecture and minimize the risk of rolling out a new technology, particularly one as new, complex and different at 5G.

There is no final 5G specification yet; therefore, operators like Etisalat will have to base these 5G tests on their own definitions of 5G. We will learn from these trials and contribute to the final 5G standard that the 3GPP standards organization is developing.

With technologies supporting IoT gaining popularity, there is a tremendous growth expected in devices being connected on this platform.

The overall strategy of the government to focus on building smart cities will also build a momentum to introduce new services on these technology platforms. This will require an advanced network and infrastructure to support in terms of speed, latency and build efficiency in the entire network. There is an expected growth in the volume of data that will be processed on these networks.

Supporting innovation in UAE Vision 2021
With the global economy to face significant economic changes in the coming years, the UAE Vision 2021's national agenda is to position the country on a global platform as an economic, tourist and commercial capital by transitioning to a knowledge-based economy promoting innovation, research and development. The national agenda also focuses on the country becoming the best in the world for entrepreneurship unlocking the potential of nationals and becoming driving force for change in the country.  Etisalat's efforts in the past few years in the development of smart cities was by providing smart and innovative solutions that will help the smart government initiative trigger a quantum leap towards the transformation of the economy. The significant investments made in the past few years support these long-term initiatives and in translating this vision into a reality.

One of the key objectives of the business unit Etisalat Digital is giving young companies a platform to engage with our experts, have access to our robust network and utilize our digital technologies to build viable products and new revenue streams. Etisalat Digital's partnership with Dubai Future Accelerators, the world's largest government supported accelerator, pair's top startups with the Dubai government entities allowing them to build, test and deploy solutions for 21st-century challenges.

Etisalat joined the program in its second round and have already launched different challenges. Selected startups get the chance to be on board in the Etisalat Scaleups program where they will be given access to Etisalat Digital resources and experts, office space, and support to deliver pilot projects to effectively demonstrate the value and potential of the partnership and technology.

Additionally, Etisalat Digital has partnered with Emirates, General Electronics (GE) and Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority (DSOA) to launch Intelak, the first travel, tourism and aviation incubator in the region to nurture local talent, redefine the travel experience and contribute to the growth of the aviation and travel sectors. This is in line with the national agenda that believes innovation is the future of human investment at emphasizes its importance across sectors where innovation, research, science and technology will form the pillars of a highly productive and competitive economy driven by entrepreneurs in a business friendly environment enabling public and private sectors form effective partnerships.

'swyp' and Etisalat
UAE today is a youth-driven country with the world's youngest government minister and the most sought after destination for most millennials from the region and global markets. A majority of these millennials are financially independent and contributing to the economic transformation in the UAE.  The country's current youth population, mainly 15-34 year olds, makes up over 40 percent of the UAE national population. UAE is also one of the most attractive emerging countries for young people who like to live abroad in order to further their careers and ranks 16th in the list of countries that are most feasible for entrepreneurs. In addition, UAE is also ranked the most desired country to live in out of 20 global countries including UK, USA and Germany.

Swyp focuses mainly on these millennials between 15-29 years with a completely new customized digital platform that will focus on providing complex-free solutions that are wholly app-based. All of these efforts directed at giving them a digital customer experience are enabled by Etisalat's robust and wide network across the country. This business model will be unique and create a benchmark in consumer products and customer service in the country. It does not anyway compete with Etisalat as a brand as it targets the youth segment aiming to provide a completely different experience on a new platform.  The objective of creating this innovative service was to become a lifestyle partner besides just a telecom provider. Targeted at youth, these customized prepaid mobile plans come with free unlimited WiFi, value add-ons, multiple discounts and vouchers from preferred outlets. The young customer can expect swyp to meet all his or her changing requirements completely on a digital platform.

International operations and Etisalat roadmap ahead
Etisalat Group's geographic footprint across the Middle East, Africa and Asia is presenting unique opportunities and challenges in today's market scenario governed by specific economic and regulation conditions. This has led to changes in the market environment requiring a reassessment in business strategy and investments. Some of these markets witnessed macroeconomic challenges that imposed limitations on investments and future growth.  Etisalat responded with confidence and showcased agility by overcoming these challenges while maintaining a sustainable business portfolio and our strong position by dynamically managing these challenges in some international markets.

The strategic decisions for each market are also dependent on the growth potential of that market and the value added to the overall positive growth of the company.

Today, we have established this solid foundation driven by its ability to adapt its operations to maintain business sustainability. Our focus will be to continue investing in futuristic solutions and next generation technologies to deliver the best-in-class services and solutions to our customers while ensuring that shareholders gain long-term value from businesses.

Customer experience
Customer experience this year has seen revolutionary changes by creating value using digital platforms to interact and enhance the overall experience. Currently, there are 8.4 billion devices connected to the internet of things, with this number projected to rise to 20.4 billion by 2020. This trend has brought in internal collaboration efforts in creating an omnichannel approach to engage with all customers.

As a company, our goal is to deliver the right experience to the right customer at the right time. In this scenario amidst intense competition, we have launched a variety of innovative offers and services in UAE keeping in mind the best for customer experience. Etisalat has maintained a diverse and effective business model offering value to the customer to meet their expectations, dynamic needs and evolving aspirations.

These customer platforms enabled by Etisalat's robust network aim to deliver quality, high speed and advanced technologies. Etisalat has made huge investments in the network, which helped to position the UAE as the leading country in the Arab world in network readiness, according to the World Economic Forum's Global Information Technology Report last year. These efforts are to improve overall customer experience by offering value and savings with competitive data and voice bundles. This is possible by understanding their requirements to create products and offerings to meet their changing needs and requirements. Etisalat has always appreciated its customer's loyalty and, therefore, will continue to innovate and enhance its customer service.

For businesses, Etisalat has an extensive portfolio of integrated services targeting various sectors, providing basic equipment and connectivity to networking services and managed business solutions. Etisalat provides small and medium businesses with customized packages designed to give the best value for money.

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