Despite the fact that technology is one aspect of our life that changes fast making it difficult to predict precisely how the future will look like, we certainly need to attempt to understand the direction where the technology is moving forward.
This will help the industry understand major trends as they would be influencing the course of the industry eco-system players such as telcos and enterprises. Looking back at the developments in the past few years and the needs of end consumers, year 2017 will be the year of preparation for 5G that will drive trends such as 4.5G Pro, cloud transformation, public safety, Internet of Things (IoT), and smart cities.
Key Telecom Trends in MEA
4.5G and 4.5G Pro: Network speed is one of the most important criteria that drives almost every single innovation in the telecom network technologies. With many operators in the region have already embraced the LTE technology, some operators will move to 4.5G to provide higher speed of 600 Mbps with LTE carrier aggregation, while some of the more advanced operators will move to 4.5G Pro to provide even more higher speed of 1 Gbps with multiple carrier aggregation and 4X4 MIMO, as Nokia has started witnessing this trend through its collaboration with many leading operators in the region for successful trials of these technologies. This trend will lead the industry towards the adoption of the next generation technology 5G.
5G preparation: Though, commercial availability of 5G technology is expected around 2020, telcos have started 5G planning and tests already with Nokia’s 5G-ready AirScale radio platform in MEA. No doubt this will be a major trend for the operators in 2017. 5G pre-standard systems will be available in 2017 which can support 5G fixed wireless services. In the Middle East, first deployments of 5G are expected to be around major events like Expo 2020 in the UAE and world cup event in Doha in 2022. Nokia is already collaborating with all the major operators in the Middle East to help them getting ready for 5G.
Public Safety Governments need networks that can address mission critical requirements, and the 4G, LTE technology is becoming the preferred choice for this. This trend is currently being witnessed in MEA, and will gain momentum through 2017. Nokia has been identified as the number 1 vendor of 4G public safety technology by Current Analysis and we have collaborated to provide the technology to the governments in MEA including in the UAE and Qatar.
IoT and Smart City: IoT will be another key trend that we can actively witness in the region through 2017. With more and more digital initiatives taken by various governments towards smart cities, this is surely going to see a major momentum with use case scenarios such as smart parking, smart meters, fleet management, and smart homes. While IoT and smart city will gain momentum in adoption, network security will be a key aspect of these adoptions, requiring IoT and smart city players to deploy, not a simple security, but comprehensive, end-to-end security, which Nokia’s NetGuard solution ensures. To scale and account for future innovation, an IoT platform is needed to handle functions such as applications development, security, analytics, device management, connectivity management, so Nokia launched an IoT platform, IMPACT.
Cloud: Although, the transformation to cloud has started with some telcos already, this year will see increased momentum in the cloud uptake. Many telecom operators are in the process of migrating the core network to the cloud. The industry will also see some operators conducting initial trials on radio clouds. Nokia’s innovative solution AirScale can bring radio to the cloud. For the cloud transformation, Nokia is providing the best in class Airframe telco cloud and data center solutions. This is based on open standards and support Open Compute Platform (OCP). Nokia provides completed end to end solution for cloud including NFVI, VNFs and MANO.
Customer Experience Management (CEM): It is a crucial challenge among operators in this year and coming years as the customer experience decides customer loyalty. MEA operators are fast realizing that investing in CEM solutions enable them to enhance quality of service, reduce churn and also boost data usage.
In line with above trends, to support operators and enterprises, Nokia has a broad, end-to-end portfolio, and consultative services, strengthened by the combination of Alcatel Lucent and Nokia Bell Labs. Nokia’s connectivity strategy is built around providing more cost effective and ubiquitous connections through a full portfolio of technologies. This is necessary to optimize different IoT scenarios – broadband, narrowband, licensed and unlicensed spectrum, wired and wireless.
Aji Ed is the Head of Technology for Nokia Middle East and Africa.