LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE 360 SERIES – MENA, DUBAI: Hatem Bamatraf, CTO at Etisalat (pictured), believes 5G offers the industry a chance to rectify past mistakes and generate higher returns from huge data demand, but warned operators must get on the front-foot to identify lucrative use cases.
Citing an Analysys Mason report, Bamatraf said the CAGR of retail revenue in MENA between 2013 and 2023 is forecast at 1.2 per cent. Comparatively, data traffic over the same period is projected to grow by more than 30 per cent, which “is not healthy from a business point of view”.
“I am not going to explain what happened, but when we see such a phenomenon, we know that something went wrong with our business models, our plans, our operating models and our investment.”
He explained the only way to move forward was to “go back and fix those mistakes, and have a different revenue growth trend, so we can at least be close in terms of data traffic growth”.
“We can rectify mistakes of the past by looking to the future. We must enable new revenue streams, invest in the right technology in the right place at the right time and have a new operating model that is efficient to sustain the business.”
5G unlike anything else
The UAE is tipped to be a global leader in 5G: the operator launched fixed wireless access in its home market this year and a mobile rollout is on-track for 2019.
In Saudi Arabia, where Etisalat operates through Mobily, the company is expecting a similar launch timeline.
However, Bamatraf warned “5G is not like any other mobile-generation that we launched”, making the route to monetisation trickier.
“Finding the proof of concept, the architecture and rollout is the easy part,” he said. “The monetisation and the actual use case of 5G is harder. It is not like 2G or 3G or 4G. It is not going to address consumers. It needs to be more directed and steered towards enterprise use cases and enterprise solutions.
He said Etisalat had already started to engage with sectors and industries to design relevant use cases in preparation for the 5G era and urged fellow global operators to do the same.
“My advice to other service providers is to take a proactive approach if you want a successful launch and business case for 5G,” he said.Subscribe to our daily newsletter