Displaying items by tag: Telecom Review Summit
Telecom Review hosts successful 8th edition of the Telecom Review Leaders’ Summit
Under the patronage of the President of the Council of Ministers, H.E. Mr. Saad Hariri, represented by the Minister of Telecommunications of Lebanon, H.E. Mr. Jamal Jarrah, the 8th edition of Telecom Review Leaders’ Summit co-hosted by Alfa, managed by Orascom Telecom, was held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beirut on the 20th of April. The event put a spotlight on Lebanon and the role that technology can play in revamping a nation full of potential.
Telecom and ICT VIPs took part at the event, notably the Minister of Information and Communication Technologies of Egypt, H.E. Mr. Yasser El Kady; the CEO and Chairman of Alfa, Mr. Marwan Hayek; Vice Chairman Group CEO of Zain Group, Mr. Bader Nasser El Kharafi; the CEO of touch (managed by Zain Group), Mr. Emre Gurkan; and the CEO of Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (du), Mr. Osman Sultan; Mr. Jawad Abbassi, Head of MENA, GSMA; Dr. Kamal Shehadi, Chief Legal and Regulatory Officer, Etisalat; Ghazi Atallah, CEO, NXN; Jay Srage, President, MEA and East Europe, Qualcomm; as well as many other CEOs of international and local telecom companies.
Highly distinguished guests took part in several panels that focused on the importance of 5G and its impact on societies and how it will change the telecommunications sector and the level of speed, efficiency, and network capacities. Other panels tackled IoT’s impact on our daily lives, how to promote smart cities, and the operators’ and governments’ role in this transformative process.
In the framework of the Summit, co-host Alfa announced a great accomplishment in cooperation with Nokia. The operator undertook a live demo of its 4G+ network and achieved a speed of 950Mb p/second, which is the highest record achieved in Lebanon to date.
Mr. Toni Eid, CEO of Trace Media International and founder of Telecom Review, gave a welcoming speech, highlighting that Telecom Review is the largest telecom media in the world and covers 80 percent of the telecom and ICT audience. In addition, Mr. Eid praised the success achieved at the Telecom Review Summit, noting that the Summit would witness the commitment of the Lebanese government towards the telecoms sector, which will lead to a digital economy that brings prosperity to the country.
Mr. Eid extended his heartfelt thanks to H.E. Jamal Jarrah and his team, the co-host, Alfa, and Mr. Bader Nasser Al Kharafi, in addition to all the sponsors for bringing their support to the event. H.E. Jamal Jarrah stated that holding the Summit at this particular period shows that Lebanon is on the right track.
“We are gathering here today for the 8th edition of Telecom Review Leaders’ Summit in a friendly professional environment where we will witness the Lebanese government’s commitments towards the telecom sector, which will lead to a digital economy that brings prosperity to the country,” said Mr. Eid. “In addition, all of us will join very important debates and lectures with our Leaders who came from several countries with their experience and expertise which we will all share, as our Summit is always about sharing ideas, knowledge and opinions in order to help shape the future together.”
H.E. Jamal Jarrah said the telecoms industry is not only rapidly evolving, but also evolving daily in several fields. He noted that the Ministry of Telecommunications has the support of the President of the Council of Ministers and is determined to deploy tireless efforts to achieve its vision for the sector while taking into account the great Lebanese human capacities.
When asked about his opinion about the summit H.E said: “It’s essential to hold this summit in Lebanon and the most important thing is the remarkable level of participation from all over the region. This summit has offered to Lebanon new dimensions, ideas and opinions that will benefit the country and the telecoms sector.”
On another side, Mr. Hayek tackled Alfa’s greatest achievements since its establishment in 1994. He said: “We have made headway through our leading technological projects and the innovative services, which have helped us to transform from a traditional operator to a digital one, leading the IoT revolution in Lebanon and the region.”
“This role was reflected through the accomplishments that the company has achieved since its establishment,” Mr. Hayek added. “In fact, we were the first company to launch GSM mobile service in Lebanon, 3G+ in 2011, 4G in 2013, and today 4G+ has become a reality, covering more than 92 percent of the population on Alfa’s network, and soon we will reach 5G.”
Mr. Hayek said Alfa has become a digital operator aiming at providing the best services to the Lebanese people at the level of the internet speed and other services that address the citizens’ needs. He also talked about unprecedented records achieved by the company in terms of smartphone penetration that reached 88 percent which is equivalent to the percentage reached in most developed countries. He added that more that 75 percent of Alfa’s 2 million subscribers are data consumers and 30 percent of them use LTE devices.
H.E. Yasser El Kady, Minister of Information and Communication Technologies of Egypt, added to Mr. Hayek’s delight of having the Telecom Review Summit held in Lebanon, a nation he said that feels “like a home” to him. “I have a very good feeling about being here,” he said. H.E El Kady praised the Telecom Review Summit tagline “It’s All About SMART Networking,” claiming that conversations around technologies such as 4G, 4.5G and 5G are important.
“What is this transformation we are experiencing in the world?” His Excellency asked. “It’s about networking, it’s about smartness, and it’s about how we can change things for the better. Telecommunications technology right now is paramount when it comes to changing the world that we are living in, and it even affects the whole economy. People are talking about smart networking and digitization.”
Today, an important topic is defining how we can accelerate digitization around the world, said H.E. El Kady. He said we need to focus on how to change the delivery of services to be more efficient and smart. The heart of this transformation, he said, is telecommunications from an economical point of view and from a technology point of view.
Echoing H.E. Yasser El Kady’s speech on digitization, Osman Sultan, CEO of UAE-based telecom operator du, presented to the audience “smart headlines for smart conversations”. “Although I operate in a country that today is amongst the highest rates of penetration in mobile telephony, fiber optics, and in internet, the real conversations are not yet taking place.”
“We are in the middle of a digital revolution, but it didn’t start recently,” Mr. Sultan explained. “There has been the industrial wave; when I was a teenager the discussions were different, there were different keywords to be used back then: It was about labor, productivity, and manufacturing. Then we moved towards the communication wave with mobile telephony, followed by the digital wave (the internet, video and cloud) that has radically changed everything. Then we reached the data age where we are now able to combine data with each other; there’s a sensor where everything we touch in our lives such as the car, house, window, elevator, are all generating data.”
When all of these things are connected, said Sultan, by applying analytical data science, you can unleash the power that data can bring. When we are able to know how much a person is spending, where they are living, etc., then we can have dashboard and insights on personal, corporate, city and nation levels to be used for planning for a better city and the revolution of nations, said Sultan.
“This is empowerment, big data and IoT. This is what smart cities will bring. We will reach a time where our kids will not need to drive anymore,” said Sultan, adding that we will have 7 billion drones by 2020 and $12 billion revenue by 2021. It will replace a billion worth of human labor and services, he said. Moreover, “technology will become our new companion and even save our lives, and it will probably replace 50 percent of all jobs by 2030.”
As a final note Mr. Sultan said: “I strongly believe that technology is fundamental and will be a positive transformation to this part of the world where we will have smart technology, smart learning and smart people. So I am calling for all of us to take part in this positive transformation.”
As for Mr. Emre Gurkan, CEO of Touch Lebanon, he has participated in the smart cities panel. “As Zane Group we have been working with smart cities for a long time, now after 3 years we have been very active in this space and as touch we believe in digital transformation that is going to be a significant topic in the next 5 years in Lebanon. From that perspective this panel was a very interesting one, we talked about smart city, smart education, and smart health and how we can enable smart cities as telecom operators.”
When it comes to touch’s plans for the next few years Mr. Gurkan said: “One of the reasons I came to Lebanon is because I believe in Lebanon and I believe in touch as a company. A lot of Lebanese startups are around the world including the Middle East and that’s why Lebanon has the future in terms of human potential and we have a significant education population here. As touch we have an amazing future since we know about digitalization, we have learned it from Zain Group, so my whole objective is to bring all this success and ideas and adapt it to touch and then get the Lebanese society to become digital in the coming 3 to 5 years.”
On another note, Imad Kreidieh, Director General of OGERO, participated in the “Future infrastructure for the digital transformation” panel, in which he talked about the importance of the infrastructure for the ICT sector in the country. When asked about his opinion about the summit, he said: “It’s a very beautiful event and I’m really pleased to be part of it. It is a promising event in terms of ideas exchange between the attendees, which can improve the development of the ICT industry.”
Furthermore, speaking about the progress being made in Lebanon’s tech sector, H.E. Nicolas Sehnaoui, Chairman of the UK Lebanon Tech Hub, said the organization is “doing a lot of things to prop up the Lebanese ecosystem.”
The UK Lebanon Tech Hub is an international initiative by the Banque Du Liban and the UK government supporting the growth of Lebanon’s knowledge economy. The UK Lebanon Tech Hub’s accelerator program is the first accelerator from the region with a truly global footprint. Each acceleration cycle comprises of two phases: 3 months in Lebanon constituting workshops, mentoring and investment matching, then 3 months of international acceleration, opening the doors to new markets.
The UK Lebanon Tech Hub started with capacity building, acceleration of startups and building success stories, but now it’s going further into research and development (R&D) with an international centre, said H.E. Sehnaoui. “We started this year with three R&D projects collaborating with three major Lebanese universities and major universities in the UK. It’s a very promising R&D work that is being done and this is with the help of the British government who provide the funds.”
H.E. Sehnaoui said the Lebanese government needs to “improve its act” in terms of having proper governance to implement proper infrastructure to improve its technology sector. “I think we are currently on the right path with the new government,” he said. “The main challenge of Lebanon is not the local market – it’s being able to be a hub for the Lebanese entrepreneurs, inventors, startups and companies to branch out throughout the region and the world. This is a challenge that I think we are winning.”
Sharing H.E. Sehnaoui’s commitment to Lebanon and its future, Dr. Kamal Shehadi, Chief Legal and Regulatory at UAE-based telecom operator Etisalat, said that given Lebanon’s rich resources and human capital in entrepreneurship, it would “be a shame if Lebanon did not really give its youth and entrepreneurs” the telecom platform from which they can launch their businesses.
In order to do that, he said, Lebanon needs to be thinking about how to put in place a dynamic that constantly innovates in terms of technologies that allows people to realize their full potential. This involves moving from the current generation to a more advanced generation of technology, which requires not only expanding and spending on the networks, but also a vision and the proper policies and regulation.
“It is these regulations that are lacking today,” said Dr. Shehadi. “5G has been one of the topics discussed today, but 5G is not just another technology that vendors can sell to telcos – 5G is a whole ecosystem which allows all the stakeholders in this space to come together on one network to exchange services, etc. This means that if the regulations are not there, you will not achieve the full potential.
Dr. Shehadi concluded saying: “My main interest in being here today is to make sure that Lebanon advances in terms of putting in place the right vision, the right policies, and the right regulations to enable continuous improvement.”
Lebanon-born Ghazi Atallah, CEO of NXN (formerly neXgen) shared in the valuable discussions about the role that technology can play in making Lebanon a smarter, more agile economy. “We have many interesting opportunities here in Lebanon especially with the municipalities in the cities. Our role is to help cities transform to become smarter,” said Ghazi.
“There are many opportunities here in the various dimensions of the cities. We have evolved to become a smart city service provider and the reason why we rebranded is to highlight to our customers and people in the industry that we have evolved from being a consulting organization to becoming a full-fledged service provider where we build, operate and run smart city services on behalf of our customers. We are now able to deliver smart city as a service – not just design it – but actually build it and run it.”
Ghazi highlighted the fact that every city in the world has its challenges, and Beirut and the various municipalities in Lebanon are no exception. “I think the smartest thing to do to transform a city is to actually focus on your own challenges - there is no such thing as a smart city for everyone,” said Ghazi. “The challenges in Lebanon are around environment, transportation and logistics, so that should be the focus and the emphasis of any smart city initiative that takes place in Lebanon.”
A gala dinner at Casino Mehanna followed the Summit, where Merit Awards and certificates were presented to distinguished ICT Leaders as a token of appreciation. At the end some lucky guests won Huawei P10 smartphones in an entertaining raffle draw.
His Excellency Jamal Jarrah, the Lebanese Minister of Telecommunications, and Mr. Toni Eid, founder of Trace Media International and CEO of Telecom Review, presented the awards.
Telecom Review Leader’s Summit 8th Edition Merit Awards:
- Mr. Bader Nasser Al Kharafi, Vice Chairman and Group CEO, Zain Group, won the Leadership Award for significant investment and contribution to the development of the Telecom and ICT Industry in MEA
- Mr. Osman Sultan, CEO, Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (du), won the award for Best Brand Maker
- Mr. Ghazi Atallah, CEO, NXN, won the Leadership Award for significant contribution to the development of Smart Cities in MEA
- Dr. Kamal Shehadi, Chief Legal and Regulatory Officer, Etisalat International, won the award for Best Achievement for Regulation & Standardization
- Mr. Jay Srage, President, Qualcomm International Inc., Middle East, Africa and Eastern Europe, won the award for Best Management for Bridging Innovation
- Lebanese telecom operator Alfa won a special Appreciation Awardfor co-hosting the 8th edition of the Telecom Review Leaders’ Summit
Egypt’s Minister for ICT emphasizes ICT as a key transformational enabler for government
Egypt’s Minister for Communications and Information Technology, His Excellency Eng. Yasser El Kady, was an esteemed guest of the Telecom Review Summit 2016. Eng. El Kady received the Award for ‘Telecom Leader of the Year for Government and Non-Profit Organizations’ for his expertise in serving the industry for over 25 years, enabling him to gain solid experience in technology transformation strategies and planning for Egypt and the Region.
Throughout his career, he worked on implementing several development initiatives to support entrepreneurship, talent development and export of IT products and services. Minister El Kady gave an inspiring keynote speech at the Summit, in which he started by examining how Egypt and the UAE can share progressive plans for sustainable development.
During his keynote speech, Eng. El Kady explained that in Egypt, and in other regions, governments are now executing sustainable development plans, noting that Egypt’s sustainable development strategy bears the title “Egypt Vision 2030”. The main pillars of the Strategy include social justice, knowledge and innovation and economic development. “ICTs are at the core of this Vision and over 30 projects have been implemented”.
Minister El Kady highlighted the importance of political support and backing to effectively execute aggressive and innovative transformational plans, stating that the leadership of the nation extends full support for the ICT sector.
The Minister shared the recent deployment of national telecom and IT infrastructure projects, emphasizing improved services offered to the citizens, he also referred to the successful awarding of the 4G licenses to Egypt’s four operators, allowing them to offer numerous new services for their subscribers.
Minister El Kady also shared at the Summit his vision for smart communities in Egypt, highlighting an official mandate that all new cities should be smart; the first being the New Capital. The Minister also emphasized Egypt’s successful experience in developing technology zones (due to develop seven) each embracing an innovation and entrepreneurship center to work on new technologies, generate intellectual property and address local as well as global challenges.
Eng. El Kady asserts that Egypt is considered a very lucrative market for business, and remains confident about his sector, “we are growing positively this year, from one digit to double digits– 10.5%; the sector is contributing by 3.2% to the GDP and we expect this contribution to continue to grow,” the Minister said. .
Minister El Kady asserted that the Egyptian government has recently taken important steps for economic reform, “as a consequence foreign investment in the ICT sector started to flow. Electronic manufacturing stands on top of our agenda; currently four international manufacturing entities have decided to invest in Egypt by establishing facilities in the new technology zones of Assiyut (south of Egypt) and Borg El Arab (north of Egypt), they are due to start production Q1 2017.” He added: “We have aggressive plans to export out of Egypt to meet regional and global demand.”
Communications Service Providers need to be thoughtful about their areas of focus, says Accenture’s Gary Heffernan
Speaking at the 2016 Telecom Review Summit, Gary Heffernan, senior managing director for Communications, Media & Technology, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Latin America at Accenture, gave a thoughtful keynote speech about disruption within the Communications industry. He said: “There is no doubt that with the disruption and change that is going on around the industry, consumers have different and changing expectations of Communications Service Providers (CSPs).”
“I think the proliferation and explosion of devices, the explosion of consumption, and the explosion of experiences, creates a massive business upside for them, but only if they start to scale capabilities that will change their game on their customer experience,” said Mr. Heffernan.
“I believe in the need to inject new DNA – being digital capability - in CSPs’ organizations - a change that is absolutely critical as we think about the next generation of telecommunications,” Mr. Heffernan told delegates at the Summit. He added that there is “great opportunity” in what he calls “B2B 2.0”. Around the world, industries are crying out for innovation, and CSPs have the opportunity to empower enterprises with connectivity as the IoT starts becoming reality, he said.
According to Heffernan, the Communications, Media and Technology industries are providing the majority of game-changing technology and innovation. If we’re going to seize the “B2B 2.0” opportunity, he explained – whether that’s in SME’s or large corporates – we need more of the thinking that was highlighted at the Summit.
This includes collaboration with governments, creating the right investment climate, and becoming more pro-active in orchestrating the eco-system, whether that’s with start-ups or whether that’s with new innovators. These factors are “crucial” said Heffernan.
“In relation to the ongoing changes in the Communications industry, you can see that some European CSPs now believe that they’re going to be in the banking business,” Heffernan explained. “You look at companies like Orange, who have announced their intention to be a key player in mobile banking: they have already established “Orange Money” in the Middle East & Africa and now want to take what they’ve done there to other parts of the world.
“I think what’s happening with VOD and OTT is worrying for these industries, but I think CSPs need to be very thoughtful in what areas they’re going to play – and making sure they’ve got the vertical capabilities, the security capabilities, and the aggregator capabilities to be successful in whatever bets they choose.”
Discussing Dubai’s smart city transformation, Heffernan noted that there is clearly a “lot of vision” in the region – particularly with Dubai’s ability to attract talent. Right now, he said, the Communications industry needs leaders, not administrators: “Leaders that are going to have a vision and have the courage to try new things, and the courage to really transform their capabilities.” The capabilities of the last 20-30 years will “not be enough to transform any telecoms operator into a digital visionary.”
It’s absolutely crucial, Heffernan said, for CSPs to make the right investments in training and capability, and create the right environment for investment. “I truly believe that the key driver between success and failure will be talent,” said Heffernan. He also emphasized, “the ability to nurture, retain and unleash talent, even if it means challenging all the fundamental assumptions in your organization.”
Telecom Review Summit 2016 was all about ICT as the heart of a ‘Smart City’
Telecom Review hosted its 7th successful annual Summit on December 13, 2016, held under the recurring theme: ‘It’s All About SMART Networking’. Once again, the Summit gathered the best telecom and ICT industry leaders under one roof at the Intercontinental Hotel, Dubai Festival City, to share knowledge and insights about transitions happening within the telecom and ICT industry. This year’s event focused on ICT as being the heart of a ‘Smart City’. Esteemed guests included His Excellency Mr. Yasser El Kady, Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Arab Republic of Egypt, who delivered an inspiring keynote speech.
The 2016 Telecom Review Summit marked another milestone of success, bringing delegates together to learn and debate about developments in the regional and worldwide telecommunications community. The Summit delivered interesting keynotes and panel discussions throughout the day, moderated by experts in the fields of telecommunications, government, smart cities, regulation, and consulting. Telecom Review’s very own Jeff Seal, Managing Partner, Telecom Review North America, moderated the panel discussion: ‘Data Traffic Growth: Security, Network & Solutions – Role of Operators and Wholesale Carriers’.
One of the most anticipated panels was the ‘Visionary Debate’ between Mr. Hatem Dowidar, CEO, Etisalat International and Mr. Scott Gegenheimer, CEO, Zain Group, who discussed challenges facing the industry, as well as opportunities, and how telecom operators can differentiate themselves. The ‘Telecom Leaders Panel’ was also highly recognized, featuring a discussion between esteemed speakers including Mr. Marc Halbfinger, CEO, PCCW Global; Mr. Ahmad Farroukh, CEO, Mobily KSA; Mr. Jay Srage, president, Qualcomm International, MEAE; Mr. Husein Rifai, CEO, MDIC; and Mr. Gary Heffernan, senior managing director, Communications, Media and Technology, EALA, Accenture.
In his opening speech, Mr. Toni Eid, CEO of Trace Media International and Editor in Chief of Telecom Review, expressed his gratitude to the esteemed guests for gathering at the Summit: “I’d like to extend to you all a warm welcome to Dubai, the most dynamic city in the world, which also promises to be the happiest,” he said. “We are gathered here today at the 7th Telecom Review Summit as we believe there is no Smart City without smart technology – which is well served by smart telcos and regulated by the best government practices.”
Mr. Eid noted that smart technology was on top of the agenda, as the Summit gathered smart city decision makers, smart city stakeholders, telecom operators, technology vendors and smart city consultants to discuss the best developments and planning of future cities. He shared plans for the event and topics to be discussed, such as telco and city infrastructure, looking toward 5G, network deployment, transport of the future, and data traffic. Looking ahead to a full day of presentations, Mr. Eid said: “As usual, our summit is about sharing ideas, knowledge and opinions in order to help shape the future together.”
Representing Dubai’s Smart City transformation, Mr. Wesam Lootah, CEO of the Smart Dubai Government Establishment, gave a keynote speech in which he discussed some of the key initiatives Smart Dubai has launched. He stressed the fact that everyone’s voice counts in Dubai and its transformation, and that the Smart Dubai Government Establishment strives to give citizens and residents a stronger voice. He said the government should work for people, not against them, and that the government needs people’s help in order to do so.
“Let me ask you a question: How many of you like taking surveys? Would many of you be willing to take a ten minute survey every time you interact with the government?” Mr. Lootah asked the crowd. Only one person raised their hand. “Your response – or lack of I should say – is what I expected. If the survey took two seconds I’m sure you would all interact and that’s why we’ve launched the happiness meter.”
The happiness meter, he explained, is a device that “gives everyone in the city a voice.” It lets the government know what citizens are thinking. This feedback is imperative for the government because it doesn’t always get things right, just like anywhere in the world, and it can then learn from mistakes. The happiness meter enables everybody in the city to let the government know what it can improve on. It’s a very simple interface, he said. It has been deployed across all channels: service centers, mobile phone applications, and on government websites.
“We have spent the last eighteen months collecting over four million votes and now this has been deployed in thirty-eight government entities,” said Mr. Lootah. “The private sector is now taking it up with 133 service centers adopting it. What’s the difference between this and a survey you might ask? Surveys are good, and they go deep and give you a large volume of information. However, it may take 3-6 months to do a survey. The difference here is that you get real-time information. City leaders and city managers can actually judge in real time if changes in their services are having the right impact.”
His Excellency Mr. Yasser El Kady, who later received the award for ‘Non Profit Organizations' Telecom Leader of the Year’ at the Telecom Review awards ceremony, also gave a keynote speech at the Summit, in which he said he was “very happy” to be at the event and extended his gratitude to Mr. Toni Eid for inviting him to the “fantastic” forum. Mr. El Kady began his speech by “exploring how we can link the Smart Dubai vision with our government’s [Egypt’s] plans for sustainable development.”
“In Egypt, and in other regions, governments are now executing plans for sustainable developments. We have recently developed 20-30 sustainable projects and we have other strategies in place for our country,” said His Excellency Mr. El Kady. “ICT is becoming – or has become – one of the most important pillars when it comes to implementing sustainable developments – and you will find that ICT in all its dimensions features prominently in our 2030 strategic development plan towards Egypt.”
Referring to the presentation by Mr. Wesam Lootah, Mr. El Kady discussed the important role of the government highlighted in the keynote speech, which “illustrated clearly the importance of political support.” This is very important, he said, adding that, “If you have a plan, and you have a strategy without a real high level of political support, then of course the plan can be executed, but not in a very strong way.”
“Having that support from a political point of view gives you a lot of support. In Egypt, the president of our nation has extended his full support to ICT. He looks to ICT and recognizes it as the real transformation for the country, and he has committed to building multiple entrepreneur centers to encourage innovation across the region,” said Mr. El Kady. “In Egypt, we have a population of 92 million and we have 27 governorates, but we are now in the process of constructing technology and innovation centers in each and every one of the governorates. This is designed to fully focus on innovation, enterprises and ICT.”
His Excellency Mr. El Kady elaborated on how the Egyptian government is constructing technology parks across seven governorates and has already integrated two in one year. In Cairo, he said the government has established a smart village, but “again it’s a matter of building the infrastructure and the platform towards real country transformation.” This is a “great initiative” he said, especially when considering the journey to smart city transformation. It’s not just an initiative here in Dubai, said Mr. El Kady, but an initiative that can be executed anywhere with the right planning and execution.
“As part of the plan for Egypt in relation to smart cities, we want to embrace this vision. The new capital of Egypt will be a smart capital, and a smart city. We are going to leverage all the expertise we have learned from Dubai and beyond in order to implement our vision. It’s important to share these ideas at events like these in order to deliver the proper services required to keep a population of 92 million happy.”
During another inspiring keynote speech, the charismatic CEO of Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (du), Mr. Osman Sultan, took a different approach to expressing his amazement at the rapid transformation of the ICT industry. When Mr. Toni Eid reached out to Mr. Sultan, he said he knew “it would be a challenge and a responsibility,” because Mr. Eid asked him to present a subject that would stimulate conversation during the day. After some consideration, Mr. Sultan decided to share some points that he thinks are “changing the world in which we live.”
“We only need to be looking around us to see that being connected is becoming a basic human right,” said Mr. Sultan. “When I had the privilege of chairing the ITU group for Arab World in the early 2000’s, I remember we were talking about mobility, and I made a daring statement that we could put a mobile in the hands of everyone. Some thought that this was over-promising.”
At that time, Mr. Sultan suggested that this would eventually become a basic human need. After the current revolution of social networking, he has since upgraded his statement to say that being connected is a basic human right. We can simply look to children for proof, he said. The first thing young people ask when they go to a restaurant is for the Wi-Fi password – this has become the “new reality that we live in.”
Mr. Sultan also spoke about the “abundance model” that we live under in modern society. “The evolution of technology is adding more and more speed to our lives, and is allowing the transportation of more and more volume, more and more data. Just to give you an idea, in 2015, if you wanted to watch one second of old videos on the networks, it would take you five years to watch this one second,” he said.
“In 2017, there will be 3x connected devices than the number of the entire population of the earth. It’s an abundance model, constructed not only through technology – yes, there has been the development of 2G to 3G and then 4G, and now some people are even talking about 4.9G waiting for 5G because we’re impatient – but this is not the full story.”
Mr. Sultan explained that when society started on its “internet journey” most people in the mid-90’s used to use the internet as a library of sorts. The key names in the industry at the time were Google and Yahoo. Then when early 2000 came around, he said people started using the internet for shopping because the commercial industry starting to become established online. For example, people started booking airline tickets, shopping for clothing from overseas, etc.
“There has since been an evolution of the ecosystem around the internet, and the real transformation came about in the mid-2000’s when people started going to the internet like they go to a café – to socialize,” said Mr. Sultan. “People now go on the internet simply to see what their friends are doing, which restaurant they are at, or what they are eating. Today, my kids don’t get information from going through various articles, but by interacting with their online social networks.”