We are stepping into an era, which marks the beginning of ‘Intelligent Connectivity’ underpinned by ubiquitous and hyper connectivity. This term is used to describe the powerful combination of flexible, high-speed 5G networks, the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). This will have a significant and profound change on individuals, industries, society and the economy, transforming how we live and work.
Etisalat Group is at the heart of this evolution by taking great strides in the rollout of 5G networks. The focus at MWC this year will be engaging in discussions in the future of the network and at the same time expecting healthy debate on the new challenges and opportunities presented by the next generation of Technologies.
Journey and achievements in 5G
5G is becoming a reality in UAE, Etisalat’s pioneering efforts in 5G will enable subscribers to enjoy technologies blending physical and digital realms from AR and VR to IoT, AI, autonomous vehicles, advanced robotics, 3D printing, wearable tech and more.
Our continuous investments and focus on enhancing and building one of the most advanced networks in the region have empowered digital transformation opening up opportunities to engage with our customers in new ways. Innovation was always at the core of our strategy to ‘Drive the digital future to empower societies’ putting our efforts on providing innovative solutions enabling connectivity, mobility, connected devices and IoT, energy efficiency, lower latencies and more reliability.
Etisalat embarked on its 5G journey four years ago when it started construction of the network with a dedicated team of engineers and specialists to build one of the most advanced networks in the region.
In the same year, a number of strategic partnerships were signed with global technology companies to carry out trials and implement advanced technologies and solutions on the network. A series of tests were carried out in the infrastructure to gauge the extent of 5G readiness and get an insight into the upgrades required to launch the 5G network first in the region. The goal was to get the network ready for data heavy applications and content to be broadcasted across media platforms during the Expo 2020.
Another significant milestone in 2016 was the successful completion of the first live 5G experiment using millimeter waves (mmWave). This showcase was the first of its kind in the MENA region with Etisalat becoming the first telco globally to test speed at 36 Gbps on a 5G network. This was followed with another global milestone in 2017 with a speed showcase of 71Gbps setting a new global record in data transfer speed using e-band and massive MIMO technology.
5G a reality for the next generation
Early in 2018, Etisalat set global benchmarks in 5G in technology and on the network. Etisalat successfully conducted a 5G trial with outdoor mobility. The trial demonstrated 5G capabilities in a real world environment over a live network, including tests on speed, latency and beam steering. The 5G trial system used 800MHz of spectrum in the 15GHz band, demonstrated over 20 times greater performance than what was currently used in 4G networks. The trial also achieved an aggregate site throughput of more than 24Gbps a significant improvement over current 4G networks.
Another major milestone for Etisalat and the telecom industry was the launch of the first commercial 5G wireless network in the UAE becoming the first telecom operator in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region to achieve this technological milestone and set an industry benchmark. Etisalat was the first operator to have a fully developed commercial 5G network available to provide gigabit internet services to its customers. The network will fuel enterprises digital transformation, IoT, smart cities and the fourth industrial revolution.
Etisalat’s network will provide the most advanced digital and telecom services to Expo 2020 Dubai and its millions of visitors, supporting an expected 300,000 users on peak days. It will be a key component of the Expo 2020 ‘smart site’ that will deliver a unique and memorable experience for the millions of visitors.
Etisalat is now ready to launch 5G service for all consumers with its infrastructure and network equipped to support all 5G devices set to be launched by global mobile device manufacturers in 2019. With continuous investments in technology and innovation on the network, Etisalat’s infrastructure can enable 5G connectivity today for all fixed devices expected to be launched in the first half of this year.
Etisalat’s technical teams are building 5G network sites to enable 5G coverage across the country. Our network and infrastructure will be ready to provide the service as soon as the 5G mobile handsets are available in UAE. With 5G technology consumers will witness unprecedented maximum speeds of 10Gbps.
With majority of 5G deployments to be implemented by 2020 on a global level, by the end of 2024 industry estimates indicate a projection of 1.5 billion 5G subscriptions accounting to 17 percent of all mobile subscriptions at that time. Etisalat foresees the future of connectivity and is already exploring use cases with new technologies and services that will blend our physical and digital world.
Leading the way to the future
Innovation and digital transformation are key to our success and a result of our strategy and vision at the next level of development that has led the company to play a greater role in the digital lives of consumers and enterprises. This forms the backbone of a robust and one of the most advanced, fastest and widest network in the region.
Infrastructure investments have been key to this growth and leadership in the market, this continuous investment has led to the modernization of mobile and fiber-optic networks and infrastructure development through investments in future technologies such as IoT, AI and 5G.
Our robust network is a pillar in our long-term digital strategy that has helped in maintaining consistent leadership globally in setting benchmarks in the telecom industry. For instance, the UAE remains a global leader in terms of FTTH penetration, this enabled us to launch of innovative services meeting the growing demand and changing requirements of our customers. At the same time, Etisalat’s 3G and 4G network coverage has set a benchmark by reaching 99.73 percent and 98.95 percent respectively.
Etisalat also recently was recognised as the ‘The Most Valuable Portfolio Brand’ in Middle East and North Africa (MENA) by Brand Finance for the 3rd year in a raw, as a recognition for the company’s impressive portfolio of brands becoming the first Middle East group to break the $10 billion barrier in terms of wider portfolio value.
Today, Etisalat boasts a portfolio of brands such as Etisalat Misr, Mobily, Ufone, Maroc Telecom, PTCL and Etisalat Afghanistan. The company has also seen an 8 percent growth since last year, resulting in becoming the first Middle Eastern brand to hold such a wide portfolio. For the second consecutive year, Etisalat also retained its position as the most valuable consumer brand in the Middle East and Africa.
Operating in 15 countries across Asia, Middle East and Africa, Etisalat’s success can also be attributed to its continued efforts in developing its customer loyalty programmes, sports sponsorship commitments and in driving the digital future to empower societies.
Several factors have attributed to the success and growth of Etisalat’s brand value mainly driven by an innovative customer service driven strategy, adapting well to a digital savvy marketplace, leading the 5G revolution and the successful launch of global brand building initiatives. Etisalat has reached out and engaged with its consumers across markets with global branding initiatives by sponsoring global football teams and clubs aligning with the brand’s priorities of being at the forefront of major sporting events. Etisalat also launched the new positioning campaign ‘Together Matters’ to highlight togetherness among its subscribers in today’s world of connectivity.
Strong outlook and company performance
Etisalat continued to deliver on its promise of strong performance despite the increasing global economic challenges and the mounting pressure facing the telecom industry. We have showcased good results underpinned by our continued commitment and investments toward next-generation services and solutions, adding remarkable value to the communities we serve and enhancing customer experience.
Our corporate strategy has enabled us to consistently push boundaries, by responding swiftly to the global digital advancements and proactively delivering cutting-edge services and solutions to our customers. We will continue to focus on creating the world’s best and leading networks across our markets to deliver long-term value to all our stakeholders.
Etisalat Group is confidently moving forward in enriching lives and enabling societies across markets. As a group, we will continue our efforts to sustain a healthy portfolio that maximizes synergies, and focuses on enhancing customer experience.
Synergy among our operations
Etisalat efforts across its operating companies have helped solidify our position with our superior network, strong core business and new revenue streams.
With an international footprint that extends across Asia, the Middle East and Africa, Etisalat Group operates in a wide array of macro-economic contexts. Whilst the group anticipates market fluctuations and changes in certain markets, we expect to transform business and operating models with our dynamic and adaptable corporate strategy in order to thrive these varying contexts.
The successful launch of 4G services in Egypt was a testimony to our efforts and a key milestone in the country, as it served as a catalyst for economic growth and delivers benefits to the entire society. Additionally with the deployment of VoLTE in 2018, Etisalat Misr has continuously played a significant role in the development of Egypt’s telecom sector. In Saudi Arabia, Mobily’s strategic vision under the Saudi Vision 2030 saw investments and partnerships to develop 5G and bolster the advanced network in the country.
Etisalat will focus on ‘Driving the digital future to empower societies’ to explore the future of connectivity as it fuels new technologies and services that will blend our different maturity levels in each market.
Fostering innovation and entrepreneurship
Etisalat has always believed in the power of creativity long-term value and success by fostering the growth of tomorrow’s innovators and entrepreneurs. We are constantly looking to tap into the possibilities of the booming startup ecosystem. Etisalat is looking at nurturing entrepreneurial growth by creating partnerships that will provide them the platform to grow and showcase their abilities.
We were able to work together with these young innovators and entrepreneurs to imagine, design and co-create the future. Our teams focused on solving complex challenges while leveraging assets to create unparalleled opportunities. With the accelerator whose mission is to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of strategic sectors in the region, Etisalat worked with government entities and scaleups to co-create solutions to address both the local and global challenges of the future. This partnership was part of Etisalat Digital’s strategy to bring the latest technologies and innovations to enable a smart ecosystem.
Etisalat has also collaborated with the open innovation ecosystem with its own innovation program ‘Future Now’ that focused on introducing new ways of collaborating with startups, IoT developers, government entities, enterprises and end-users. Young companies will get a platform to engage with experts, have access to Etisalat’s robust network and use digital technologies to build viable products and create new revenue streams.
The ultramodern ‘Open Innovation Centre’ provided a platform to showcase these digital technologies and was in line with the overall strategy to empower the society across our customers and enabling them with solutions and services on this digital journey. Businesses had the opportunity to experience Etisalat solutions applied in real-world scenarios and get a comprehensive view of technologies that deliver concrete business outcomes.
Our Digitization efforts are not limited to business products and services but also in providing a digital experience for our customers. Customer experience has seen revolutionary changes using innovative digital platforms to interact and enhance the overall engagement while continually creating new innovative products and offerings to meet their changing needs and requirements.
For instance, Etisalat implemented advanced systems for in-depth analysis and Customer Feedback Management modules implemented across all touch points to collect on-the-spot feedback on customer interactions
Another example is speech analytics utilising next-generation tools and systems to analyse voice-based communications aiming at enhancing service quality and derive actionable insights to better fulfil the needs and expectations of our customers and ensure a seamless experience.
With our portfolio of services for enterprise solutions, Etisalat offers a wide range of integrated services, from office connectivity to networking solutions. Etisalat has tailored solutions for the SMB sector to deliver the best possible value and a competitive offering. We have set up a first dedicated business hub for SMBs that is committed to provide owners with tailored advanced solutions that increase their productivity and profitability.