INTERVIEW: Etisalat takes a giant leap with new technologies in MENA

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Etisalat is exerting tireless efforts to meet the growth in capacity demand by investing in futuristic technologies and smart services, according to Khalid Murshed, Chief Technology Officer at Etisalat Misr.

In an interview, Murshed highlighted Etisalat’s plans for the future while shaping the telecoms industry in the Middle East region, including Egypt. He also tackled the operator’s plans and the factors to successfully enable global connectivity.   

Khalid Murshed, Chief Technology Officer at Etisalat

Data centres are booming in the region and we are curious to know if Etisalat is planning to start entering this field in Egypt?

Murshed: Of course, this is a focus area to us. We have lately built two data centers, one of them TierIII certified. The first is built for our corporate use and the second is to host B2B partners. This is a journey we started many years ago, and we are investing in developing our data centres portfolio. Hosting does not mean only renting a space but also means providing value added services.

I want to ask you about 5G, especially financial aspects, volume of investments and implementation

Don’t forget that we have launched 4G two years ago, in 2017, and we are still in the rollout phase. The 4G network needs to be upgraded and developed in order to transform to 5G network.

We will seize the opportunity of having Etisalat UAE being the first operator to launch 5G network in the region, as it will completely cover Expo 2020 with 5G network. Accordingly, this will be reflected on the Egyptian market and will not be reinvented in Egypt.

As a proof of how dynamic we are, we launched the first massive MIMO 4G site in Egypt last year with Huawei. In addition, we are planning to launch more sites. This makes us always pioneers in the ICT sector especially when it comes to upgrading to 5G.

Can you highlight to us the penetration rate just to understand the demand of the market? On the macro level, we are witnessing more than 50 percent year-on-year growth in the data traffic. This varies from an area to another. In some areas where we are adopting 4G and the handset penetration is high, we have more than 100 percent year-on-year data traffic increase.We are proud of being a data-driven operator. So our decisions are based on thorough analysis for the network data. When we started rolling out 4G, we were analysing the 4G handsets penetration in every pixel on the map. For Example, we upgraded 10 percent of the sites in 2016 to 4G to capture 50 percent of the 4G handsets, so we can provide a superior customer experience while migrating more traffic to the 4G network. It is not about having more 4G sites, it is about what matter the most to the customer. As we saw, some of the areas as I mentioned are more concentrated with legacy phones like 2G and so on.

Based on your expectations from MWC and Huawei booth visit, how do you see Huawei providing a better value to your business in different areas such as 5G, cloud, data centres, future solutions for business clients?

Huawei and Etisalat have been collaborating for many years. Huawei is a reliable partner in providing cutting-edge technologies and a leading supplier to the whole industry because they are always pushing the envelope. They are always challenging the status Queue and moving the bar higher than expected. We see new technology from Huawei every quarter and that is in line with our vision, which is providing the state of art technology and best solutions to our customers.


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