LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE 360 MIDDLE EAST: The CEO of Saudi Telecom Company (STC) urged the region’s mobile industry to focus on three key areas, warning that failure to do so may jeopardise the ability to benefit from booming demand for mobile data.
Setting the scene, Khaled Biyari asked whether the region’s 72 per cent annual mobile traffic growth can be sustainable. “We used to talk about terabytes, now we’ve changed the units to exabytes. We forecast 1.5 exabytes per month in MEA by 2020. But revenue from data is just 20 per cent, and it’s taking up 60 per cent of capex.”
To support what he calls the “digital revolution”, Biyari repeated the familiar call for more spectrum, suggesting that 600-800MHz of additional spectrum is needed globally by 2020.
And he wants to see the introduction of “fair usage requirements,” controlled by the operators. “We need to be fair to everybody. Operators are the first to worry about their customers, so the regulator is not correct to move to a customer advocacy situation… The way we are able to price our products fairly is so important to the future of our industry.”
Thirdly, the STC boss said it is necessary to encourage open platforms to reduce barriers to innovation. “This is fundamental. GSM as a technology was successful because it is an open standard.”
All this, claimed Biyari, will ensure operators are well positioned to inject capital into their networks. “The economic model will collapse if operators are not able to invest,” he warned.