MENA is a huge and extremely diverse region of 23 countries that form part of the broader EMEA categorization. In the past 10 years, economic growth in MENA has been two to five times that in Western Europe and this means the cellular-enabled devices market is poised for continued growth.
Ahead of the LTE MENA conference in Dubai this May, I caught up regional expert and speaker at this year’s conference Imran Malik, Senior Director – Enterprise Business Commercial at du, to discuss his opinions on the region’s continued growth and the new services that offer the most potential to boost operator revenues.
“Issues like a significant hardware premium for LTE-enabled devices and per-device service charges are two of the key weaknesses preventing further growth at present” he said. “And the improved user experience and compelling devices make the market ready to take off. Also, new device types such as the connected car by GM will offer a very significant opportunity for service revenue expansion. Operators have the opportunity to significantly expand the average household number of devices on their network.
“In the last 12 months MENA has witnessed widespread LTE deployment and strong desire for data services, as evidenced by smartphone sales. MENA should have a greater percentage of emerging connected devices on its cellular networks. Operators have offered cellular-enabled emerging devices for years, but these products and accompanying Operator data plans had little hardware subsidies. Operators need new service revenue streams, which will come from emerging cellular-enabled devices like tablets, cars and the home
“LTE provides end users with a dramatically better user experience than previous-generation wireless technologies. Because the user experience improves greatly, end users are more willing to pay for the services. The superior user experience provided by LTE has encouraged consumer electronics to embed LTE modems in their devices/cars, which is a critical step to drive the operator opportunity with new device types on their networks. Automobile manufacturers would have been much more hesitant to roll out connected cars or to risk high customer dissatisfaction and poor activation rates without the higher speeds in LTE. With connected cars and other devices embedding cellular connectivity, Operators with widely deployed LTE networks will have the ability to take a significant lead over their competitors when it comes to these emerging connected devices.
Aside the proliferation of these emerging connected devices, Imran believes one of the biggest opportunities of operators in 2015 is to harness the potential of LTE in businesses.
“4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) mobile services have become essential for many communications service providers (CSPs) under pressure to upgrade users of 3G technology, but this pressure has often led them to focus on LTE’s price, rather than on how businesses can benefit from LTE’s higher transmission speeds and lower latency. Furthermore LTE coverage is not yet pervasive, with indoor coverage a frequent shortcoming, which could result in operators focusing on promoting business cases only where coverage is relatively good or can be boosted by distributed antenna systems
“Therefore the biggest opportunities for operations in 2015 would be to prioritize business applications for which high network speeds and low latency are important, rather than focus on theoretical speeds that customers may not actually receive. Secondly we should be able to relate our LTE offerings to existing industry and machine-to-machine (M2M) services and general 3G offerings for specific user profiles. This will help us deliver concrete benefits to enterprises through the combination of higher speeds and widespread mobility and remote access.
“At the LTE MENA in Dubai this May, I am interested in seeing how other network operators are adapting and evolving their network addressing these challenges and mitigating them using LTE technolog. As an operator we are facing huge growth in global IP traffic, coupled with unchanging end-user monthly billing, data centres are growing in terms of server and virtual machine numbers. Increasing M2M communication has resulted in increased traffic, therefore our networks continue to have serious known problems with security, robustness, manageability and mobility that have not been successfully addressed. Our Capex has not been reducing fast enough and Opex growing further, putting excessive pressures on operators like ours. I hope to discuss these challenges and more with my peers in Dubai this May.
Imran will be discussing “Realising the Revenue Potentials of New LTE Services” at LTE MENA 2014. If you haven’t already registered to attend you can do so here: http://mena.lteconference.com/register/
Or if you represent an operator company secure your free operator pass here: http://mena.lteconference.com/register-for-a-free-pass/