Cloud adoption is accelerating worldwide: Forbes calculated the compound growth rate of cloud computing at a staggering 19 percent, meaning that its market value will rise from USD 67 billion in 2015 to USD 167 billion in 2020. The Middle East is at the forefront of this trend. Experts forecast that by 2020, there will be a 440 percent increase in datacenter traffic in the region. It is only a matter of time before the cloud supports the whole world.

Read more: Huawei: The intelligent cloud for digitalization of the Middle East

Nokia says that 5G will be a key-enabler for what it is labeled as the 'Fourth Industrial Revolution' and that the next-generation technology has the power to completely transform societal norms in sectors such as manufacturing, transportation, energy and healthcare. Telecom Review managed to secure an exclusive interview with Head of Customer Marketing and Communications, MEA at Nokia, Joachim Wuilmet during GITEX Technology Week.

Read more: Nokia emphasizes 5G is now primarily the technology for industry and Internet of Things

BridgeWave Communications, a market leader in the development and deployment of high capacity microwave and millimeter wave backhaul and front-haul solutions, is set to accelerate its growth and footprint in the Middle East following the regional launch of its NAVIGATOR DT systems at GITEX Technology Week.

Read more: BridgeWave set to accelerate growth in the Middle East with introduction of new products at GITEX

Exclusive Interviews
Typography

The acquisition of Indian telecoms software firm Elitecore by digital infrastructure giant Sterlite Tech has provided it the opportunity to address the pressing end-to-end network requirements of communication service providers (CSPs), said Elitecore's Vaibhav Mehta, Senior VP - Business Development, speaking to Telecom Review at Mobile World Congress 2017.

Elitecore now operates as a software business unit - the Telecom Software Division of Sterlite Technologies, specializing in BSS, Packet-core and Carrier Wi-Fi solutions. Sterlite Tech has traditionally focused on telecom infrastructure building up fiber optic cabling networks while Elitecore focuses on software. Sterlite Tech sees its acquisition of Elitecore as a means to address the needs of CSPs to become end-to-end solution providers.

Everything from infrastructure to installing services and software follows a certain principle, says Mr. Mehta. Laying the network is the responsibility of the design and building unit under Sterlite Tech. The second business unit under Sterlite Tech is the services business unit which specializes in network integration and system integration.

"The idea is that Sterlite Tech supplies infrastructure which is managed and operated through the services division, and then with the software acquisition of Elitecore, Sterlite Tech is now able to monetize the network infrastructure completely," Mr. Mehta told Telecom Review.

Through the complete picture of designing, building, managing, operating and then monetizing networks, Sterlite Tech has established itself in a position to be able to address the end-to-end requirements of CSPs, Mr. Mehta explained. "Our customers are extremely happy about this - they are excited that Elitecore, once a specialized software company, is now part of a much larger group."

The acquisition of Elitecore by Sterlite Tech has allowed the software division to expand and introduce new products which are part of its "roadmap". It has also allowed Elitecore to look beyond its borders to regions where it was not present before.

For instance, Sterlite Tech has a strong presence in Europe, so through the acquisition, Elitecore is now able to position its software products across Europe. Sterlite Tech has operations on a global scale with manufacturing presence in India, China and Brazil.

"Between both groups, we are addressing close to 100 large customers worldwide," said Mr. Mehta. "That gives us a lot of coverage from a market perspective to start putting all of our expertise together and project ourselves as an integrated telco solutions company."

Elitecore's strong software product portfolio has positioned it to work with a lot of mobile operators. It's clear that LTE is where most of the focus is right now, and Elitecore already has success stories such as its Revenue and Customer Management Platform, policy control, AAA and real-time charging. It's a "platform approach to monetize LTE data services" offering a common platform for both voice and data, Mr. Mehta explained.

"As part of the rapid growth of mobile broadband, Wi-Fi is still an important service criteria for mobile providers," he said. "There were thoughts that Wi-Fi would be dead when LTE took off, but that hasn't happened because the end subscriber's appetite for data consumption is extremely high - people want real-time data everywhere all the time."

To meet this demand, Elitecore works with providers to enable monetized public Wi-Fi services. Elitecore works with content providers to monetize the entire business. For example, subscribers may experience free Wi-Fi from their provider, but they are accessing the service through an app-based login or portal, and that becomes a platform for the provider to push through promotional content. Elitecore calls this its B2B partner model - a means to monetize its CSP customers' Wi-Fi projects.

Recently, Elitecore has launched a digital commerce framework which allows service providers to give their subscribers an "end-to-end digital commerce real-time experience". It removes the human involvement in terms of buying services, which could be perceived negatively, but the advantage is that service providers can provide services on-demand at any time.

'We have launched two smart cities in India'
'Smart cities' is another area where Sterlite Tech is positioned to implement end-to-end integration with the help of Elitecore. In emerging markets, governments are behind in developing digital infrastructure and are therefore looking to adopt smart city agendas to leap forward. Sterlite Tech, according to Mr. Mehta, offers a wide spectrum of solutions and services to address smart cities.

Sterlite Tech's main goal is to build networks using its expertise in fiber optic but also completing the digital infrastructure by adding services. Sterlite Tech is "laying the fiber and putting all the active network elements on top of that," said Mr. Mehta. With the added expertise of Elitecore bringing software capabilities to the package, Sterlite Tech can now monetize the entire network infrastructure.

Elitecore's Wi-Fi Services Management Platform (SMP) is for Wi-Fi usage as well as for smart cities, says Mr. Mehta. Once the solution is in place, it can provide different use cases to smart cities worldwide. The platform addresses smart street lighting, public address systems, public Wi-Fi, digital signage, Speed Detection, 24/7 Customer Care, and face recognition systems, which are all linked to a Central Command Centre. The platform also incorporates billing, captive portal, location-aware services, and subscriber analytics.

"From our point of view, we see smart cities as an entire solution - right from infrastructure, to the network, to services, and then to software," said Mr. Mehta. "We have launched three smart cities in India - the first three smart cities to be commissioned in India. One is in the state of Gujarat and one is in Rajasthan."

Security is a growing concern regarding smart cities for every digital lifecycle service, said Mr. Mehta, addressing challenges Elitecore is facing. But he says providers in the industry are working towards standards to make networks smarter and more secure.