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In an exclusive interview with Telecom Review, Hakan Ekmen, CEO telecommunication, umlaut shed light on how the organization addresses all industries with connectivity needs, how its services and solutions drive telecom infrastructure advancement, and what’s in store in the telecom segment for 2022.

What is the major role that umlaut plays in the telecom industry?

We provide our customers with services and solutions that design, manage, monitor, test and optimize the world’s telecommunication infrastructure. We ensure its security and identify its weaknesses, while always being at the forefront of new technologies.

We are defined by the added value we create for our clients, for their companies and their products. In 25 years, umlaut has grown into a multinational, globally active company with thousands of highly specialized and experienced experts.

umlaut provides the full scope of independent technical and management consulting and services like network planning and optimization, security, device testing, and acceptance. We are very well known for our international benchmarking, which provide transparency and push the network quality and performance.

On top, umlaut addresses all industries with connectivity needs. Our clients include network operators, equipment vendors, device manufacturers, public safety organizations and regulatory authorities around the world.

How do umlaut’s services and solutions drive the world’s telecom infrastructure advancement?

We evaluate the digital infrastructures worldwide – such as mobile and fixed networks – and make them usable.

Since 2006, we have been conducting the "connect Mobile Network Test", which is well known in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Today, we measure and evaluate the telecommunications networks in 120 countries. Our benchmarks are regarded as the de facto industry standard. Thanks to our consistent and constantly improved methodology, the results are comparable across the countries. Network operators consider them to be the most relevant assessment of their network’s performance and use them to enhance strategic decisions. umlaut constantly adjusts the testing methodology and scoring models to the progressing technical development. The umlaut methodology takes into account growing customer expectations, expanding data volumes and rising data speeds by raising the requirements and thresholds of the tests each year.

From an umlaut perspective, what is the key to keeping up with the high demand for network coverage and connectivity performance?

We think that the key to meeting the high demand is agility and constant improvement. A deep love of everything technical unites us, as well as the passion for making, doing, and creating things. We like to try things out and just see what happens. Also, we believe that knowledge transfer is the key to success. With our crowd-based benchmark solution, we can monitor the developments in network coverage and connectivity in real-time and provide insights on consumer experience worldwide. Thanks to our consistent methodology, the results are comparable across the countries. One key for keeping up with the high demand are continuous investments into the network infrastructure. With our expertise, we are helping our clients to find the best benefit for their investments into network infrastructure.

Telecommunication is a very dynamic industry. In an executive’s outlook, which trends would continue to heavily transform this sector?

5G and upcoming standards will drive topics like Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and mobile edge computing. Telecommunication becomes a driver for innovation in other industries such as connected cars, inflight connectivity, e-mobility, autonomous driving and
intelligent networks.

umlaut drives exciting challenges that form the basis for topics such as smart home or smart working. The 5G integration and the technologies based on it will be a main component of our strategy. We will increasingly focus on future-oriented topics such as data analytics, AI-supported analyses, and next generation network intelligence.

Open RAN (O-RAN) will be a major topic for the network operators regarding network technology. Traditionally, mobile network technology is created from very specialized technology players, who have proprietary interfaces between the network elements. Open interfaces create competition, mainly on two angles. One is pricing, which is an important aspect for a mobile network operator. The other angle is innovation, with similar importance. Both components are relevant factors.

What’s in store for umlaut in the telecom segment for 2022?

In 2022, 5G has become mature in most countries all over the world. The mobile network operators are investing billions of USD into the network infrastructure. We will continue to measure the network performance with our mobile benchmarks based on our framework.

Moreover, as connectivity is exceeding the realm of the internet and including more and more everyday objects and devices by the day, digitalisation is more than just digitising sensors and machines.

As we have already touched the topic of O-RAN, we should mention that O-RAN enablement will be one of the key aspects. The fibre-transformation accelerates digital transformation, whilst investing billions in the future of technology and connectivity.

Network transformation will also come in the form of fixed network deployment. Our experience in analysing fixed lines regarding network performance and related measures will contribute to pave the way.

We have a variety of skills which we deliver end-to-end. For example, our IoT capabilities range from sensor integration to data processing and from backend to frontends, our fields of action include logistics, smart cities, the automotive and aviation industries, amongst others. We additionally run our own IoT lab as an extra playground for ideation and experimentation.

With new standards being created and network cloudification conversing data and applications in relation to cloud computing, another big topic for 2022 will be security – especially network security. Overall, security is essential for the further development of wireless technologies and is becoming a major topic for the industry. More connectivity across all industries means growing cybersecurity challenges. Driven by individual motivations, attacks are targeting mainly sensitive data and critical services, which not only lead to a financial and reputation loss, but also result in disasters due to unavailability of critical infrastructures. The sheer variety of attacks needs to be detected and mitigated effectively.

As umlaut, we are eager to consult our customers to achieve best possible security posture by implementing tailored measures and execute thorough security testing to prepare against such cyber-attacks. Our cross industry and public sector experience are the foundation for our best practice knowledge that we can leverage from to consult and prepare our customers effectively and in an efficient way.

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