The story of investment in our mobile network will never end
Fahad Abdulrahman Al Hassawi, CCO – du
Interview – Gulraiz Khalid
Gulraiz Khalid: Looking forward to 2016, what is your vision for du in the UAE market?
Fahad Al Hassawi: The UAE provides a very healthy market and we are lucky to be operating in this market. We will continue to expand over here as we see a lot of room to grow over here.
We will always need more and more speed. With a rise in upcoming OTT applications and video requirements, the market will continue to need more speed and du is committed to providing this high speed to its users.
We are talking about Smart Cities on every forum today. The idea of Smart Cities brings with it a need for more bandwidth, speed and coverage. Our vision is to enhance our customer experience and meet the increasing demands of the region which we can foresee in terms of Live Streaming, IoT, Smart Cities etc.
As far as I can see, the story of investment in our mobile network will never end, because with our customers and the needs of our customers, we will continue to grow.
GK: Many of our readers would be interested in the idea behind du’s partnership with Vodafone?
FH: The beauty of partnering with a company like Vodafone is that it brings in a lot of those global contracts that are already in place and we do not have to start from scratch.
We have decided to enhance the existing partnership we already had with Vodafone to provide the very best of Machine to Machine (M2M) solutions to UAE businesses. This new technology will allow more complex data to be shared via the Internet of Things (IoT) – allowing for more sophisticated services.
The partnership enables du to offer enhanced M2M services to enterprises looking to implement IoT. Initially du will focus on connected car opportunities such as enhanced safety, connecting drivers with garages and emergency services. The technology also stands to revolutionise access to in- car infotainment. mHealth applications for M2M will also be explored to improve remote care for patients and bring greater efficiencies for healthcare providers. The clients for M2M are usually business and not direct consumers. For example, if there is a company that has a fleet of cars and they wish to track them with reference to location, travelling speed, distance covered and so on, it will be much easier for them to do so. For direct consumers, it will be more of a B2B2C model whereby an automobile company such as BMW could offer a car which comes with a pre-installed SIM card so that the consumer may be able to use certain applications in the car.
GK: Roaming charges are quite an issue for customers as international travelling becomes more and more popular? Do you think International Number Portability could be a solution in the future?
FH: We understand the importance of roaming charges, especially for our market which is home to millions of tourists every year. We want to see much more roaming traffic happening here and we want to facilitate all mobile users in the area. The final roaming charges are always decided by the user’s own operator in their home market – what we do is that we give big discounts to these operators. However, our efforts are not effectively visible because many of the operators are not passing our discounts over to the end user, which is something that has come to light only recently and we have approached these operators about this issue.
International Number Portability is an idea that does not seem feasible, at least at this point. When we opened MNP between Etisalat and du, it took a lot of time and efforts – opening MNP to multiple operators internationally will consume such a huge amount of time, effort and other resources that it is simply not feasible. However, we want to facilitate roaming in the region, and as I have said, we are approaching the issue with other various avenues.
GK: What will be your key focus areas for the coming future?
FH: Our strategy will not change. We will continue to do the things we have been doing with a bit more focus on enterprise. For us, as an enterprise service provider, there is a lot of room for growth and opportunity in terms of market share and we intend to fully benefit from this opportunity. We want to focus on premium customers, postpaid premium customers and also prepaid premium customers.
In respect of our vision for Smart Cities, there is a lot of discussion going on and a lot of cases from international markets are being studied along with best practices to ensure that progress in this regard is maintained at a good pace.
We have recently announced the option of Fixed Line portability which has been made possible after a long period of efforts with Etisalat on integration and testing etc. Both of the operators will now allow double-play (Internet and Telephony) customers to switch to each other so that there is no limited zone for the users in terms of the choice of operator. The next step in nine to twelve months will be triple-play which is a combination of double play and TV. Initially, we are not focusing on the numbers, but more on getting the experience right for our customers.