WinWin Issue 43
Chief Technology & Information Officer (CTIO) of etisalat by e&
etisalat by e& Pledges to Continue Network Innovation with a Strong Focus on Sustainability and Customer Experience
--As one of the most advanced telecom operators globally, etisalat by e& promotes network evolution and service transformation with advanced technologies, improving user experience and creating more value for society while building strong competitiveness. According to its latest earnings report, its net profit rose by a record 7.4% to 10 billion dirhams (US$2.7 billion) in 2022. And driven by value capture of high-value growth, etisalat by e& achieved revenue growth of 3.2% in 2022, accelerated by connectivity and digital lines.
Khalid Murshed, Chief Technology & Information Officer (CTIO) of etisalat by e&, spoke to WinWin Live at MWC 2023 about the operator's commitment to sustainability, customer experience, 5G evolution and the changing telecoms industry landscape.
WinWin: Sustainability is a major topic at this year’s MWC and has also been a major focus for the UAE, which is the first country in the Middle East to announce a plan to reach Net Zero carbon emissions by 2030. As the largest operator in the UAE, can you tell us about etisalat by e&’s sustainability initiatives so far and the key role your company is playing in this journey?
Khalid Murshed: We are very proud of this key sustainability initiative and as an organization have already started working in this strategic direction. Our commitment is to achieve the Net Zero target through network evolution and network transformation by adopting solutions and products that are more environmentally friendly, with low carbon emissions and greater efficiency in terms of power and water usage, and waste management.
Within the organization the Environmental Management System (EMS) is in place to encourage internal collaboration between all teams, and to create initiatives that promote environmental protection in practical terms. In 2021 etisalat by e& was re-certified for ISO 14001.
Also in 2021, diesel generators were replaced across several wireless sites with renewable energy sources from solar power. etisalat by e& also collaborates internally to develop programs that tackle climate change and energy conservation, and which we aim to begin rolling out next year.
WinWin: etisalat by e& has recorded some great results recently with both its 5G and fixed broadband networks. Can you tell us more about how you ensure the best user experience for these customers?
Khalid Murshed: etisalat by e& is very proud of its record of new technology adoption, especially if it can bring value and an improved user experience. We were among the first operators globally to adopt 5G and currently we are ranked No.1 in the OKLA speed index for fixed broadband and for fiber to the home (FTTH). Our fiber penetration rate is more than 95%. Our technology direction always focuses on the best user experience and making the network and infrastructure ready to deliver premium class services.
We believe in building infrastructure as a backbone to adopting new technologies and providing new mobile and fixed services. We have adopted key technologies in our networks such as massive MIMO 64x64, 50G-PON technology , fiber to the room (FTTR) and Wi-Fi 6 technology for an end-to-end, best-in-class user experience. Also, we have invested heavily in our backhaul infrastructure to ensure the minimum latency for the carrier network. So all these factors combined enable us to provide the best user experience.
WinWin: Let’s talk about 5G, which is rapidly advancing towards the next step in its evolution: 5.5G. This is going to be a significant upgrade in capabilities for both consumers and enterprise customers. What are your thoughts on the development of 5.5G so far?
Khalid Murshed: Connectivity, efficiency and experience are always among the key considerations for any operator. The demand from consumers and enterprises in the future digital and connected world are forecast to increase by up to 10 fold. 5.5G will address the future network requirements and before long networks should be ready for this unprecedented flux in demand.
Next generation 5.5G technology will deliver ultra experience, larger bandwidth, higher spectrum efficiency and higher-order modulation. Speeds reaching up to 10 gigabits per second will deliver an unmatched experience. etisalat by e& is deeply engaged in state-of-the-art proof of concepts (POCs) and trials around the 6 Ghz and mmWave spectrum which will help spectrum harmonization, resulting in more bandwidth and improved network performance.
In summary, operators can expect to see a 10-fold increase in network capacity, along with energy saving and OPEX reduction. etisalat by e& will collaborate and work very closely with key players, associated standard bodies and industry partners to achieve the vision of 5.5G.
WinWin: The telecoms industry is changing rapidly in 2023. Here at MWC we’re seeing new technologies, new business models, and changing customer behaviors. What does this changing environment mean for your overall strategy and your plans for continued growth in the future?
Khalid Murshed: Our overall vision and strategy is to prioritize and focus on key strategic initiatives, such as:
• Driving the digital future to empower societies.
• Accelerating value generation through innovation and digitization.
• Raising capabilities and developing talent for the future.
• Growing our B2B/digital offerings across the footprint.
• Expanding our portfolio in Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and around the world.
• Continuing to transform in order to reach the level of excellence that we aspire to for our customers and the enterprise market.
Since its founding in 1976, etisalat by e& has always been the pioneer, and will continue to be into the future, driving the digital future to empower societies. With the limitless possibilities of future innovation, etisalat by e& will never stop striving to bring digitalization to all of us. Driven by digital transformation alongside green and low carbon, the ICT industry has arrived at a moment of innovation and change, marking the start of a new journey of exploration. etisalat by e& focuses on innovative digital technologies, user experience, and sustainable development, as well as strategic planning in the 5.5G era. With the joint efforts of leading technology partners, the UAE and entire MENA region will lay the foundation for 5.5G and build on the success of 5G for even greater prosperity.