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stc has been continuously evolving its capabilities through innovation and the use of new technologies, and they aim to maintain this momentum throughout 2023. In an exclusive interview with stc Kuwait CTO, Eng. Fahad Abdul Rahman Al Ali, he shared details on the company’s latest developments and how the telco can attain its technological needs in the coming years, among other insights.

Can you tell us more about how stc Kuwait has benefited from 5.5G trials in terms of three-carrier aggregation (3CC CA) and the 5.5G passive IoT?

stc aims to continuously develop its 5G infrastructure with cutting-edge 5.5G trials that demonstrate its ability to enable state-of-the-art ICT solutions in the Kuwait market. The Company aspires to bring next-generation 5G benefits to end customers, allowing them to enable their digital transformation strategies in line with Kuwait’s 2035 Vision.

5.5G three-carrier component aggregation (5.5G 3CC CA) offers increased spectrum efficiency and a higher performance experience for more people, machines and advanced digital applications to access the network with an ultra-fast single-connection peak rate of 3.6 Gbps. 5.5G 3CC CA maximizes middle-band spectrum coverage by enabling superior digital experiences in harder-to-reach areas such as basements, higher floors in buildings and deep indoor areas that would otherwise have weak 5G coverage.

Additionally, the 5.5G network will offer added benefits and solutions to new market segments, including industry innovations for advanced low-cost passive IoT devices. 5.5G connectivity is capable of withstanding and supporting millions of passive sensors at a wide distance of 200 m. We believe that this revolutionary technology will uncover new opportunities within the sector while accelerating competitive digitalization plans within several industries, such as smart manufacturing, enterprise asset inventory, retail, medical, logistics, tracking of fast-movement goods and others.

Following the success of its 2022 performance, how will stc Kuwait continue to bring next-generation experiences to customers?

In 2022, we built the first converged core network and extended our nationwide 5G dual-band network reach to provide higher speeds and better coverage across the State of Kuwait. We placed our efforts on revolutionizing the customer experience by adding new innovative services that extend beyond traditional communications. This allowed us to obtain higher speeds, less latency, extensive connections, the adoption of new smart products, higher efficiency and deeper integrations into advanced technologies.

We are continuously working to improve the experience of our customers by helping them incorporate efficient, reliable and secure network slicing into their transformation strategy, enabling them to scale their services massively and add new innovative applications. Our Company plans to innovate and evolve our capabilities in various ICT domains, providing further innovations on top of our 5.5G initiatives. This will allow consumers and industries to benefit from a highly immersive experience and unlock the potential of futuristic opportunities in 5.5G diversified service scenarios.

What are the innovative steps that stc Kuwait will take in 2023 to achieve its goals?

As mentioned earlier, stc has been continuously evolving its capabilities through innovation and the use of new technologies, and we aim to maintain this momentum throughout 2023. To this end, we are embarking on several initiatives. One such initiative is to re-purpose our 2G and 3G networks to efficiently manage our spectrum bands, allowing us to meet the growing demand for 4G and 5G services. Additionally, we are exploring the possibilities of expanding our 5G NSA/SA digital network performance by adding the 5.5G spectrum band. This expansion will enable us to realize full-service capabilities covering consumer, home and enterprise scenarios.

Moreover, stc plans to undertake multiple 5.5G initiatives to foster digitalization opportunities, including achieving global gigabit mobile networks, speeding up network automation, building intelligent cloud networks and providing network-as-a-service platforms. Our goal is to support the agile monetization of digital services and accelerate the exploration of innovative technology scenarios for different 5.5G applications. We will continue to exchange views and information with local and global ICT players, building an advanced ecosystem to drive and shape 5.5G digital services to support the digital transformation plans of local industries in the State of Kuwait.

As chief technology officer (CTO), how do you see stc Kuwait best attaining its technological needs?

As you may be aware, the technological world is evolving rapidly, and telecom operators are no longer limited to providing only connectivity services. Instead, they are expected to offer a full suite of digital services to both consumers and enterprises. This trend places a significant amount of pressure on operators such as stc, and we understand the importance of keeping up with the diverse needs of our growing customer base. To achieve this, we work alongside our technology vendors to stay informed and aware of the latest technological breakthroughs in the industry. Over the past few years, stc has demonstrated its commitment to innovation by being the first in the region to test and commercially launch multiple advanced services in the 5G domain. We have also been closely collaborating with industry leaders to maximize the technical innovations and capabilities of 5.5G, ensuring that new digital services and use-case scenarios are properly supported.

Given that global cyberattacks increased by 38% in 2022, how is the company evolving its cybersecurity approach in order to combat these threats?

stc's cyber security strategy is continuously being developed and updated to keep pace with the latest risks and threats in cyberspace. Our commitment extends beyond implementing all the standards of the national strategy for cybersecurity in the State of Kuwait and its appendices and updates. We go further and adopt additional protection levels aligned with international standards.

We strive to provide valued customers with the latest technologies while ensuring their necessary protection against cyber-attacks at both technical and organizational levels. For instance, we protect 5G data services and the Internet of Things by adopting and implementing the highest internationally approved cyber security standards and technologies, including artificial intelligence and machine learning technology-based systems. Moreover, we monitor and respond to any events around the clock, which has led to our high success rate in overcoming the evolving cyber threats and challenges presented today.

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