We find out how LTE is central to Etisalat’s global strategy as we speak to Andreas Frandevi, Director Group Strategy & Planning for Etisalat, who is speaking in the Emerging Markets track on Day One of the 4th annual LTE MENA conference, taking place on the 11th-13th May 2014 at the Conrad, Dubai, UAE.
How important is investment in LTE play in Etisalat’s global strategy?
LTE plays a role as a core enabler, service, revenue and operating wise, for Etisalat’s growth aspirations in applicable markets. Harnessing the current on-going explosion in mobile broadband is one of our top priorities across our footprint markets. We strive to provide a leading customer experience through an innovative portfolio of product and service offerings delivered at a high degree of quality of service. LTE is one of the enabling pieces to achieving these objectives. LTE, as indeed any other broadband technology, is part of our global technology strategy, and its relevance is dependent on the dynamics of the respective markets.
What is the potential for LTE in emerging markets such as Africa and how do you tackle the challenges it brings up?
We have seen an impressive growth in mobile data across our footprint markets, and especially in Africa, and we believe that it can continue as penetration of smartphone devices increases. Penetration of LTE enabled devices is still at low levels limiting the mass-market potential, in addition the investments required for a sustainable business case is still to be judged.
What social impact do you believe bringing high-speed Internet will have in emerging markets?
Research indicates that every 10 per cent increase in broadband penetration in developing countries results in a 1.3 per cent increase in GDP. Overall broadband penetration in in developing parts of Africa can be considered low, and this has been highlighted by several governments across Africa as a top priority. As it increases, it is likely to have positive effects on the social economy.
Do you have plans to leverage LTE to tap into other customer segments aside from mobile data?
Penetration of fixed-line broadband to households is at low levels in several of our emerging markets, with low outlooks of appetite to invest in fibre. LTE is a more efficient technology to deliver data, which could provide a more attractive customer experience for the household and business segments. In addition to higher broadband speeds this would bring access to new services. The dynamics and financial returns of investing in large scale fixed-line access is quite challenging in emerging markets, which is why mobile broadband could be used to provide services to these segments.
Can you give any key examples of how Etisalat is innovating in terms of network deployment, business strategy, or supporting vertical markets?
From a deployment and network operations perspective, we are always striving toward finding new ways on how to become more efficient in how we plan, procure, deploy and operate our network. On-going and completed initiatives include, but are not limited to; fibre roll-out in the UAE and KSA, value based network deployment, infrastructure sharing, multi-vendor sourcing models, and hybrid solutions. As these projects are implemented we are continuously monitoring the benefits realisation. Several of the benefits we are yielding today are thanks to the clear strategic direction outlined in our Group Corporate Strategy back in 2012.
From a verticals perspective, Etisalat has come a long way in just a few years with services such as; MFS, cloud, M2M, video, etc, which are successfully launched in relevant operating companies.
The 4th annual LTE MENA conference is taking place on the 11th-13th May 2014 at the Conrad, Dubai, UAE. Click here to DOWNLOAD the brochure for the event.