LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE 360 EURASIA, MOSCOW: Mobile operators have the tools to resist companies trying to push them into being a simple utility provider, Etisalat Group CEO Hatem Dowidar (pictured) stressed, pointing to 5G and the wealth of data at their disposal.

During the opening keynote session, Dowidar said operators had a range of opportunities moving forward, with some already experiencing successes in financial technology and other verticals.

“There is a future for us, we have the chance not to become the utility we were being pushed into by people coming from the dot-com side.”

“I think we have the potential to become more, it needs a lot of courage, investment and it needs also a focus on the customer”.

Dowidar noted it was important to “understand the customer” and ensure any applications using data had a strong privacy element.

“We got disrupted by many people who used our pipes to offer services for free and for many years was our dilemma [sic].”

“But, in the last few years this has started to turn around. As an industry we are starting to look into other adjacencies and look at how we can disrupt them and gain some revenue back.”

In the streaming segment he added Etisalat enjoyed a similar advantage as its counterparts in Russia over large media companies largely based in the US, namely that it was closer to producers of programming in languages spoken in their home markets.

5G opportunity
During the session, the executive noted while many have highlighted enterprise benefits of 5G, Etisalat also believed there were significant advantages for operators in their consumer offers.

He cited the gaming market, an area “becoming really attractive” due to the low latency of the most modern network technology.

As well as opening new revenue streams in consumer and enterprise, Dowidar highlighted the cost savings of delivery of data per GB achieved by 5G compared with 4G.