du brushes aside Huawei security concerns

UAE telco du has confirmed it will continue to work with Huawei, ignoring the security complaints and warnings passing across the Atlantic from the White House.

Speaking to Reuters this weekend, du CTO Saleem Albalooshi said the telco would continue to work with the under-fire vendor as 5G deployment plans gather pace.

“Huawei is our partner in rolling out our 5G network,” said Albalooshi. “From a security perspective, we have our own labs in the UAE, and we visit their labs, we have not seen any evidence that there are security holes specifically in 5G.”

Although it does not necessarily attract the same headlines as elsewhere, the 5G revolution has been gathering pace very quickly in the Middle-East, with du one of the most advanced telcos.

Alongside competitor Etisalat, du launched its 5G networks in June. And if eye watering download speeds weren’t enough to attract the interest of consumers, du also said it was giving away free Axon Pro10 handsets from ZTE for those who pre-registered to the service.

In making this statement, the UAE becomes the latest nation to defy demands from the US, risking the intelligence-sharing relationship in place between the two countries.

“Of course, this is definitely a concern, but such a thing is the government’s decision,” said Albalooshi. “We follow our government’s roads and we are governed by the regulator.”

This is becoming an increasingly common threat from the US, though it might find itself very isolated before too long. Although losing valuable intelligence from the US is a considerable threat, the same risk goes the opposite direction. If the US severs all the relationships it has promised, it will soon find itself missing a lot of insight.

To date, the threat has been directed towards the UK, Germany, India, certain states in Eastern Europe, and most recently, Italy.

The US is a powerful voice in the international political community, but perhaps it is not as influential as it believes. The number of countries who are choosing to ignore the requests of the US are starting to add up.

Q&A with Marwan Bin Dalmook, SVP ICT Solutions & Smart City Operations at Du

Marwan Bin Dalmook, SVP ICT Solutions & Smart City Operations from Du spoke to the 5G MENA team ahead of his session at the event. Marwan talks about his innovative projects and shares his expertise on how blockchain, 5G & IoT will enable smarter cities.

Can you tell us about your role at Du and your work on 5G?

I am responsible for the ICT Solutions & Smart City Operations at Du. We develop ICT solutions, which can also be customized for bespoke customer requirements, providing end to end delivery and operational services.

As the leadership of the UAE is always at the forefront of technological advancements, we also at Du are positioned extremely well as a leader in the adoption of 5G and a host of other emerging technologies such as Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Smart Cities and IoT.

Du has been playing a pivotal role in the digital transformation space; delivering managed service-centric ICT solutions to Government entities and Large Enterprises. Du is committed to achieving excellence in improving the lives of the people of the UAE, and henceforth, 5G will be the catalyst of digital transformation with its ultra-high-speed wireless broadband services, with which, UAE and Du’s strategic initiatives are facilitated. We, in Du ICT division, are committed to delivering ambitious plans to expand our ICT offerings and bundle it with 5G use cases in the domains of IoT, Smart Cities, and M2M to name a few.

What should we expect to see next from Du’s 5G enabled smart city projects?

We firmly believe that IoT and related use cases will be the principal driver for 5G across the global community of service providers.
Smart City use cases, such as IoT use cases, Augmented Reality (AR), and Virtual Reality (VR), smart metering, smart lighting, and smart districts are a few examples of where 5G will play a pivotal role as a key enabler in the rollout of such services.

Additionally, with 5G facilitating big data transfer between machines (M2M), Cloud Services & IoT, with folds of Gigabits per second, the requirements of real-time data-driven smart cities will be met.

Du are pioneers in smart city technology, how are you monetising your innovative solutions?

The core of Smart Cities resides in the power of data and what can come out of it – with a state-of-the-art cloud environment, and with a nation-wide connectivity backbone, we are able to ingest a multitude of data from different data sources, be it IoT sensors, metadata from either enterprise or consumers for further analytics. With the adoption of fast-transforming technologies such as Cloud computing, Big Data & Analytics, IoT, AI, and connectivity backbone, we are at the forefront of innovative solutions. Examples include Data Analytics as a Service, Dashboard as a Service, Cloud Services, Blockchain, IoT Use Cases, M2M, and beyond such as Machine Learning and AI.

For example, we’ve successfully engaged in a Dubai Silicon Oasis Park as a master system integrator building a smart community featuring intelligent & smart & safety solutions. As a strategic partner of Smart Dubai Office, we have designed and built Dubai’s Smart City platform – Dubai Pulse, a digital backbone powering Dubai’s smart city transformation. As a smart community, Silicon Park will feature intelligent solutions from charging docks for smart devices on the streets to smart pop-up furniture

Which industry verticals do you expect to see the most demand from for smart city technologies in the next three years?

Each industry vertical will have its own unique set of use cases. Data-driven use cases are endless, and therefore, the disruption of new technologies and advanced connectivity will have an impact merely on all industries, such as Transport, Health, Smart City, Utilities, Retail, Education, Enterprise and Government to name a few.

At 5G MENA this 7-9 April in Dubai, you will be taking part in a panel discussion about applying blockchain, 5G & IoT to enable smart cities. How do you see these three technological developments working together now and in the future?

With the emergence of 5G, for example, IoT technologies & M2M communication complemented with data analytics & cloud computing will radically alter the landscape of all businesses and henceforth making cities smarter. 5G is a critical enabler to the adoption of new and emerging technologies. Cloud computing and IoT streamline data collection, data science and analytics; coupled with 5G, and data transfer speed will no longer be a hurdle.

Making cities smarter is a never-ending journey. We have to look at what makes our cities smart; it’s all about data-driven use cases and IoT. Emerging technologies such as Blockchain will add a digital, decentralized and distributed ledger that keeps a record of all transactions across peer to peer networks securely, that is tamper proof. Blockchain can be used to make our cities smarter; applications are numerous, by creating ecosystems of solutions covering multiple use cases across multiple sectors.


Marwan Bin Dalmook

To hear more from Marwan, secure a place at 5G MENA: the largest event in the MENA region to focus on advancing and commercialising 5G networks. Apply for your free operator pass here and join us on the 7-9 April in Dubai. 

Du profit jumps 15% on increased postpaid share and efficiencies

UAE operator group Du managed to post a healthy jump in profits in Q4 2017 thanks to increasing its number of high-value subscribers.

Net profit after royalty (which seems to mean payments to the state in some form or other) jumped 14.9% year-on-year on revenue that remained pretty flat, implying a fairly significant margin improvement. There don’t seem to have been any significant one-offs so the increased profit seems to just be down to doing things better.

“The successes achieved last year are an indication that the strategic transformation our company has undertaken is enabling us to adapt to the evolving industry and accommodate the changes in customer and business behaviour,” said Ahmad Bin Byat, Chairman of EITC (the proper name for Du). “Our strategic goals have the UAE at their core, contributing to the nation’s sustainable growth through digital transformation. During 2017 we made good progress in this regard, having developed the Dubai Smart City platform, now fully operational, with core infrastructure in place and delivering.”

Commenting on the results, Osman Sultan, EITC’s Chief Executive Officer, said:

“Looking at our financial performance, I am pleased to report a record Revenue of AED 13 billion for 2017, representing a 2.2% increase over 2016,” said Osman Sultan, EITC’s CEO. “This comes as we continue to attract higher quality customers resulting in a 12.3% growth in our post-paid segment during the year, stimulated by our increased focus on that segment. Revenue growth was also supported by a solid performance in our fixed line business.

“Net Profit after Royalty had an excellent growth quarter on quarter, up 14.9% in Q4 2017 to AED 425 million, which helped maintain a stable annual Net Profit after Royalty of AED 1.71 billion, recovering from a weak quarter in Q1 2017. Growth was supported by the increase in revenue, improvement in gross margin and the impact of our cost optimisation programme. EBITDA margin is solid at 40% for the year.”

The Middle East has been one of the parts of the world where telecoms investment has seemed to remain buoyant as it tails off in North America and Europe. Some of this could be as a result of sovereign wealth funds moving away from areas that have failed to live up to expectations, such as construction, but the region also seems to see 5G as a broader economic strategic opportunity, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see this investment continue and for the region to be a global test-bed, to some extent.