Sameh Shoukry, Country Manager at Ericsson Egypt, has said that the country will see several technological breakthroughs in the next four to five years. He added that 5G technology is ready to transform Egypt’s industries and society.
He also said that Ericsson is working with service providers to evolve networks that cater for everything, from smartphones to robots on factory floors, all of which require high-performing, highly reliable connectivity. Egyptian operators are ready to switch on 5G and make use of the flexible Ericsson 5G platform.
In an interview with Daily News Egypt, Shoukry highlighted the investment opportunities the company saw in the Egyptian market, as well as its research and development (R&D) initiatives. He also outlined Ericsson’s plans in the Egyptian market for the foreseeable future, particularly following the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
How does Ericsson see the investment opportunities in the Egyptian market in light of the state’s plan to achieve digital transformation?
The ICT industry cannot survive without nonstop innovation, which is one of our strategic focus areas globally and locally here in Egypt, within our research and development (R&D) initiatives. The next four or five years will see several technological breakthroughs in Egypt.
As consumers and enterprises try out new digital behaviours imposed by COVID-19, an increased importance has emerged for mobile and fixed networks as central components of critical national infrastructure.
5G technology will enable a variety of advances ranging from remote healthcare to driverless vehicles, and Ericsson will continue to play its part in making this possible.
What technologies does Ericsson see as having strong potential in new national projects, such as the New Administrative Capital (NAC)?
In times of crisis, when connectivity is important for consumers to carry out work- and leisure-related activities, expectations for better network experiences become higher. Six in ten smartphone users have a clear positive attitude towards the role 5G could have played during the crisis. About half of them strongly agree that 5G could have offered both better network capacity and higher speeds compared to 4G. They also believe that society overall could have benefited hugely from 5G.
There was a similar level of agreement related to 5G’s role from a medical perspective. 5G was made for innovation and, as the value of digital infrastructure has been further evidenced during these recent times, 5G investments can play a significant role in restarting economies.
Is there cooperation between Ericsson and Egyptian government agencies to implement technology solutions in these projects?
Ericsson is using its industry-leading 5G trial system to support multiple engagements with different operators around the world, enabling operator partners to trial various applications with different set-ups and explore new business opportunities.
Telecom companies have recently acquired new frequencies. How does Ericsson see this being reflected in the quality of services in the mobile market?
No market can thrive, nor can any industry develop without a supportive policy environment. This is even more relevant for the mobile industry, which by its nature is highly regulated. Therefore, there’s a need to provide operators the resources (such as low/mid/high band spectrum) in a timely manner, and build a supportive policy framework, to ensure that communication networks which are critical to our socio-economic wellbeing can be deployed effectively.
What new technologies does the company see have an opportunity in Egypt?
5G wireless networks with distributed edge compute and access to real-time data in a mobile environment will drive next-generation networks and solutions towards economic and social transformation in all aspects of society.
The combination of 5G with AI and ML technologies will be vital in taking advantage of these transformation opportunities.
However, moving into the era of 5G and IoT presents great opportunities but also requires new capabilities, as well as more effective management of costs and complexity. According to Ericsson’s Supercharging Customer Experience through AI and Automation report, eight in 10 service providers expect an increase in cost and added complexity as a result of adding new technologies.
Failing to address the increasing demands on operations may adversely affect the customer experience and increase overall costs. Utilising artificial intelligence (AI) and automation correctly can help operations achieve this.
What are the main axes of Ericsson’s plans in the Egyptian market during the coming period?
Ericsson’s AI & Analytics Hub in Egypt has achieved a key milestone by shipping its first Cognitive Software products to be used by Ericsson global customers worldwide. The hub focuses on research and development (R&D) in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Automation, leveraging cutting-edge technologies to create data-driven, intelligent, and robust systems for automation, evolution and growth.
The hub emphasizes Ericsson’s commitment towards the local Egyptian market and aims to develop local talent in advanced technology areas of Artificial Intelligence and software. It employs data scientists, engineers, AI/machine learning (ML) architects, and software developers, with potential for additional positions in the future.
The AI & Analytics Hub has accelerated the execution of Ericsson’s focused strategy in Egypt by using AI and automation technologies to create data-driven, intelligent products and services. Ericsson’s Cognitive Network Design and Optimization Software enables service providers to boost customer experience, increase revenues, optimise CAPEX spend, enhance OPEX efficiency and reduce carbon footprint.
In your view, did the telecom infrastructure see a noticeable increase in investment during 2020 and the pandemic?
In these challenging times, mobile networks are more critical than ever. They are needed to ensure we can stay connected to our jobs, education, and our loved ones, while at the same time managing the challenge of increased loads on the infrastructure.
This unprecedented challenge requires public-private coordination and collaboration to ensure right and timely actions. Collaborative initiatives like supporting the Ministry of Health and Population with increased hotlines, facilitating distance learning, and increasing the data package capacity caps for consumers are all examples of how the Government and Private sectors have come together to address the challenges of this pandemic.
When do we expect 5G to reach Egypt?
5G is ready to transform industries and society in Egypt. Ericsson is working with service providers to evolve networks that cater for everything from smartphones to robots on factory floors requiring high-performing, highly reliable connectivity. Egyptian operators are ready to switch on 5G and our flexible Ericsson 5G platform will enable them to embrace opportunities and offer new services for a whole range of new users and industries.
How does Ericsson see the Egyptian market after 15 years in light of implementing digital transformation plans?
Based on their behavioural changes during the lockdown restrictions, consumers predict that their new digital behaviours will remain after the crisis. Some of the predicted trends are:
1. Networks redefined: Resilient networks will be valued. Seven in 10 say being connected during the crisis is not only important now but will be in the future as well.
2. Autonomous commerce: Six in 10 predict that deliveries will be carried out by automated drones or driverless cars, due to rising demand for contact-free interactions.
3. Borderless workspaces: After working well away from their offices, 7 in 10 white-collar professionals now predict that remote working will be the new normal.
4. Synchronous care: Six in 10 respondents in the US and UK predict that online healthcare consultations will become more popular than physical visits to the doctor.
5. Virtual experience economy: Augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) applications could evolve into attractive new travel, social or educational service offerings. Six in 10 respondents say VR will allow us to have the experiences we want, even in isolation.
Supporting digital innovation, investment and infrastructure had already been outlined as a priority within various governments’ recovery strategy, which specifically calls out extensive 5G and future 6G networks as being essential. With 5G subscriptions expected to exceed 2 billion by 2025, this is an ever more pressing priority.