Covid-19 placed considerable strain on societies globally as they dealt with the consequences of the pandemic that restricted people to their homes and placed unprecedented reliance on digital connectivity. This forced several traditionally in-person practices to the online space, resulting in substantial increases in online shopping, socializing and learning, as well as the shift to remote working, which predicated the popularization of hybrid working.
For societies to keep pace with the growth in demand for reliable connectivity, the mobile industry has made a considerable investment in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to deliver infrastructure rollouts across the countries involved. The investment, which is expected to continue until 2025, successfully brought the number of mobile internet users in MENA to exceed 300 million in 2021. This penetration is due to reach 50% of the population by the end of 2022 according to GSMA, the industry organization representing over 750 mobile operators and 400 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem.
Fundamental to the success of this endeavor has been the shift away from the legacy infrastructures that have become largely outdated. Despite extensive updates extending their lifespans, 2G and 3G cellular networks are incapable of servicing the data traffic which is only expected to further surge as the influx of innovative solutions and devices continues to integrate into economies globally.
With this in mind, many mobile carriers are driving the industry forward with the implementation of 4G networks to replace the increasingly obsolete 2G and 3G infrastructures. Delivering more powerful 4G networks across MENA enables the opportunity for more powerful devices to be used nationwide, providing a myriad of benefits to consumers including:
- Reliable availability
- Empowered security
- Reduced interference
- Diminished latency
- Increased speed
As the leading mobile technology in MENA, 4G had almost 270 million connections by the end of 2021, a rate of adoption that had doubled over the previous five years. This momentum for 4G uptake is expected to continue as mobile network operators (MNOs) implement their plans to migrate users across from legacy 2G and 3G networks, which will free up an array of bands. This will allow 4G to become ubiquitous across MENA, as sufficient infrastructure is provided throughout both population-dense and more rural underserved areas to address poor broadband connectivity.
Companies such as du and e& have already taken advantage of the various growth opportunities this presents in the Middle East and areas of North Africa. Offering a portfolio of valuable services, MNOs operating in the area have placed increasing emphasis on upgrading the digital capabilities of businesses and consumers by offering large-scale transformation.
Access to both banking on the go and digital payments has empowered individuals to consider new purchasing methods and has attracted a variety of new services to these developing markets, increasing economic activity and improving the quality of life.
As MNOs continue to explore growth opportunities within the altered digital landscape, the opportunities to introduce new solutions and new devices are endless. Capitalizing on the new mobile spectrum will be integral to scaling successful businesses and continuing to develop economies throughout MENA as investment and adoption rise.
Radisys has solutions for MNOs needing to sunset their 2G and 3G networks and can provide a seamless transition and revenue assurance with devices that deliver tremendous capabilities while priced for the masses. One such device offered by Radisys is a powerful, yet affordable, smart feature phone with an array of cutting-edge capabilities. The smart feature phone is more than a handset; it is a premium device that brings advanced elements and capacities to the masses, enabling subscriber growth, new revenue streams and increased broadband usage for operators.
Immediate monetization is possible with the right devices and the right vendor partner. Radisys is committed to innovation and service in the region and has developed a full range of capabilities that can be white-labeled by Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), including exciting and alluring applications which will drive data usage and therefore average revenue per user (ARPU). Whether these are business collaboration apps, music stores, gaming experiences or mobile payment solutions, transforming to 4G is rich with growth opportunities with the right mobile ecosystem partner.