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UAE telecom transformation to ride on 7 macro trends

Ramy Moselhy/Dubai
Filed on February 21, 2020 | Last updated on February 21, 2020 at 05.22 am

(KT file)

The sector is set to face major changes, with the launch of 5G and IoT around the globe.

Telecommunication has become a major part of life.

Everything is now at our fingertips, thanks to telecom technology advancements. The telecom sector has grown exponentially and is now a development engine in the UAE. The UAE telecom sector, dominated by Etisalat and Du, has a well-developed infrastructure with a high penetration. The country has a youthful population, with about 66 per cent of its 9.54 million population in the 25-34 age group, that has helped bring to the forefront technologies like cloud computing, big data and remote processing. The sector is set to face major changes, with the launch of 5G and IoT around the globe.

Here are 7 macro trends that will play a huge role in the transformation of UAE's telecom sector:

5G: UAE telecom players are exploring ways to create "killer" services using 5G to propel them ahead of the competition. With telecom operator Etisalat becoming the first operator in MENA to commercially launch 5G service in May last year, 2020 is expected to be the year of 5G. The 5G cellular network will enable subscribers to enjoy and unleash highly connected technologies blending physical and digital realms from AR and VR to IoT, AI, autonomous vehicles, 3D printing, wearable technology and more at a speed which is 20 times faster than 4G.

The Internet of Things (IoT): IoT utilises communication between smart devices using wireless technologies to provide value-added services. IoT will drive future enterprise solutions and provide multiple opportunities for telecom tie-ups in sectors such as automobile, healthcare, etc. Imagine a heart-sensing device automatically communicating to nearest hospitals using IoT, helping to save thousands of lives. IoT can help reduce road accidents, promote road safety, and manage traffic better. The applications are limitless. No wonder, every major telecom operator is focused on utilizing it.

Blockchain: Blockchain is an open ledger that can be used to verify records of payment between parties. It's an effective method of verifying records and has found applications in crypto-currency, financial services, gaming, supply chain, smart contracts, etc. Content creators reach customers directly, using block chain technology, for payments. With stricter regulation globally on data privacy and reliability, block chain will play a major role in UAE telecom sector too. For example, UAE health ministry recently launched country's first advanced digital blockchain-based data storage platform

Machine Learning and Artificial intelligence: Machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) is expected to play a pivotal role in the future of customer services and interactions. AI is going to be a big game changer in the Middle-East economy. AI is estimated to contribute up to $320 billion to the UAE economy in 2030. ML and AI help firms understand customer behaviour over a period of time and help them to provide superior services. The impact could be even larger if governments continue to push the boundaries of innovation and implementation of AI across businesses and sectors.

Real-time marketing: Real-time marketing is all about creating a marketing strategy for consumers with the help of current trends and consumer feedback and connecting to consumers with products and services they could use. With the increase in usage of social media, real time marketing has grown exponentially as it provides businesses with access to real- time information on a target audience. Real time marketing will prove to be a very efficient in boosting revenue for telecom companies.

Augmented reality: Augmented Reality is bound to play an important role in improving customer shopping experience. IKEA is already working on the concept of utilizing AR in their stores. AR will be extremely helpful for field executives as well in helping customers in resolving their issues and making them understand their products.

Over-the-top streaming services: With the development of 5G, it is expected that the telecom companies in UAE will be able to provide multiple direct, or over-the-top streaming services to the customers. Telecom companies will be playing a major role in providing multiple streaming platforms and not only provide data and calling services.

There will be lots of opportunities for telecom companies to grow if they are able to capitalise on the above recent trends while also keeping an eye on the ever-changing telecom sector.

- Ramy Moselhy is the head of Mena market, Comviva. Views expressed here are his own and do not reflect on the newspaper's policy.

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