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Infinet is one of the world’s largest private-owned broadband wireless access development and manufacturing companies which has time, and time again, remained a key player in the world of telecoms through incessantly reinventing itself, diversifying its supply chain with a variety of new offerings and forecasting trends and technologies in advance.

At this year’s GITEX, Telecom Review secured an exclusive interview with Infinet’s CEO and seasoned industry professional Dmitry Okorokov, who offered some insight into the secret behind the broadband giant’s success over the years and the offerings they were showcasing at GITEX.

Could you give us some insight into Infinet’s strategy in the Middle East?

Sixteen years ago, before Infinet became the Infinet we now know, the first customers we had were here in the Middle East, namely Saudi Arabia and they still are our clients until this very day.

The majority of what we are doing is connected to operators in one way or another and we have got a variety of interesting projects to talk to you about.

Our strategy is to enhance our presence amongst the major telecoms operators. In the Middle East, we currently work with some major operators like du, Zain, Integrated Telecom Saudi, Omantel and Ooredoo- among others. Many of these operators have a well-established presence in Africa and that is also a part of our MENA strategy because you can’t disconnect North Africa from the Middle East as they are very much interconnected in terms of business and share a common strategy.

With all the exciting things we are releasing at the moment and will be releasing next year, we think that we are going to seriously improve our position with regards to those operators, especially with things beginning to become connected to 5G as well as frequency reforming, the prevalence of new requirements and the constantly growing demand in capacity especially on the backbone and backhaul side- that’s one side of the story.

What are some of the key challenges that telecom companies in the region face today and what challenges do you foresee them dealing with in the future?

Like every successful business, we see challenges as opportunities. We try to convert what people call challenges into what we can do for them. The number one question for companies like ours today is “do you see, for instance, 5G, IoT and other technologies as a threat to your business or the customers you supply to?”

Infinet being a company that does not really face the very end-customer means that we are more on the backbone or axis side of things, so 5G is good news for us because this means that the operators will need way more capacity on their network and that’s music to our ears.

When it comes to frequency refarming, it used to be 3.5 GHz, YMX band, PWA band, and it has now been refarmed for 5G use in many countries. Even in the Middle East, we have seen examples of this. People have to actually do something about it because they have installed customer bases and they own the license and new frequency bands start to open. The good news for us is, for example when it comes to 6 GHz- which was never here before and it was only present in a few countries around the world. However, we now see this in the Middle East, Latin America, South East Asia and Europe. Every month you hear on the news that these bands start to open, maybe not for general use but they are still beginning to open.

For instance, they just opened this band in Mexico for government use so now all the government offices and schools as well as all public services will be connected by 6 GHz. Also, unlike traditional frequency bands, only two or three vendors in the world, including Infinet, have that. We actually developed it 10 years ago because that frequency band had already been available in Russia.

We always try to see these things ahead of time because we are not just a vendor, but also a R&D and technology company which is why we need to foresee things 8-10 years ahead, take 2-4 years to develop the technology and then 1-2 years to really introduce this technology to the customer and then we would need at least 5 years of successful selling. I’m glad we saw that way ahead of time.

What did Infinet showcase at GITEX 2019?

We showcased some of our traditional product lines which we improve year on year but we also introduced brand new offerings in our traditional frequency bands with some unique characteristics which are quantifiable. An example of this would be our new 5 GHz backhaul.

In addition, we showcased our Axion 28 which is the point-to-multipoint system in 28 GHz which is also a huge buzzword in the 5G world. We are more active on the traditional FBWA side rather than 5G side where I think we have a unique offering through which we are able to give huge capacity to operators, for both their B2B and B2G customers, and for their core network so that product fits both sizes.

We are also going to the millimeter waves of 70 GHz as well so we are trying to grow both vertically and horizontally, using both an extensive and intensive approach because that’s the only way you can survive in this industry today. Competition is not getting easier year after year.

You also see big companies, even giants, fading away just because they made the wrong decision 10 years ago; we have seen this happen so many times. Then new companies emerge as well because 5G attracts a lot of hype and investment.

What is Infinet Wireless’s latest work in the field of IoT and connected devices?

As I mentioned earlier, we are on the backhaul side. 5G and IoT cannot be discussed separately, in my opinion, it’s just one big idea. It is not just a capacity increase, it is a brand new set of applications which never existed before.

From Infinet point of view, 5G and IoT mean: capacity, capacity, capacity! So companies will need 5 or 10 times more within the next ten-year period. They will have no other choice but to upgrade whatever they have right now in the network and it is also of the essence to remember that frequency is not a renewable resource. What nature gave us is there, we cannot get more than there is today so it will be a huge fight for the spectrum and its efficient utilization.

Lower frequency bands will be more expensive, higher frequency bands will be cheaper but will have their own limitations; so I think technology will go in that direction. It is just a huge combination of everything that is there and how it can be used in the most effective way. I think that Infinet provides a very important piece of that puzzle, if not several pieces of that puzzle.
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