Interview with Chafic Traboulsi Head of Ericsson Network Services, Region Middle East.
We saw in the report that Ericsson prepared for the pressure on Networks for the summer games in Rio. Are there similar plans for big events happening in our region such as the much anticipated FIFA in Qatar?
Ericsson is covering Key Events globally around 180 countries and regionally in MENA, events such as F1 Racing Event, Meydan Horse Race World Championship, Mega concerts, business conferences and government summits. Ericsson has played a major role in handling FIFA world cups in 2010 & 2014 as well as the Super Bowl 2017 (plus 70000 spectators) where one operator's subscribers generated nearly 10 terabytes (TB) of mobile data. Ericsson has an ongoing engagement for the 2018 FIFA world cup to be held in Russia working closely with the Russian operator to prepare the network for the flow of subscribers whether nationals or international roamers. FIFA event in Qatar is on Ericsson's 5G Roadmap as the technology evolves in the coming years till 2022.
Does the network traffic significantly increase only in sports events due to high level of social media activities or is it also related to having large number of people at the same spot such as during Haj?
Social behavior varies between sporting, musical events as compared to religious events such as Haj, but there is always a common need for people to share their own experience with their families, friends and colleagues by sending pictures and videos. There is a strong correlation between the number of event attendants and the large amount of data shared over social media during a particular event. Ericsson expertise in managing Key Event Experience (KEE) supports Telecom Operators to achieve optimal resource utilization, maximize network performance, avoid unnecessary infrastructure's investments, monetize the event and ultimately protect the Operator's brand.
The report mentioned that network traffic increased by 72% during the games in Rio. Do you think this percentage can grow higher in future similar events?
As Telecom Operators and Smartphone manufacturers are continuously offering new services and functionalities to the end subscribers through Ericsson networks, we believe mobile networks should be prepared for data traffic volume explosion in the near future and upcoming events. For instance, network traffic would dramatically increase when subscribers are upstreaming 4K and 10K HD videos in the future as compared to current standard HD video. Needless to mention the growing number of OTT applications heavy in data streams and its high utilization during events. Mobile subscribers are hungry for capacity, trying to capture all moments of an event which exhausts network resources and contributes to peak traffic increase.
How does Ericsson prepare its networks during mega events?
Key Event Experience within Ericsson is an End-to-End complete solution offering. Ericsson teams perform deep dive into HW capacity expansions, SW upgrades and best in class service readiness. Through App Experience Optimization (AEO), Ericsson is very well aware about network capabilities to provide an enhanced experience to mobile subscribers with best quality of service QoS and quality of Experience QoE. The preparations start with a valuable E2E set of services from network Planning, Dimensioning, Design, Optimization delivered well in advance of the main event date. The strategy incorporates venue knowledge, customer traffic forecasting and Ericsson Intelligence Information. During the event, an Ericsson dedicated Key Event Network Operations Center is setup and delivers proactive support, live monitoring, troubleshooting and end user experience performance improvement.
There were many sources announcing that UAE will launch 5G by 2020 to cater for the Expo 2020 event in Dubai. How will 5G networks differ from 4G when it comes to network pressure at mega events?
The main differentiator between 5G and 4G for Key Events Experience (KEE) is the availabilitiy of higher bandwidth, higher rank antenna beamforming, lower latencies and Cloud architecture. Ericsson has covered EXPO2010 and 2015 and eyeing to cover EXPO2020 in Dubai. Ericsson current 5G trials in MENA region conducted in indoor and outdoor locations have shown the possibility of achieving up to 25 Gbps for the connected subscriber (UE). Ericsson Aim is to offer the most fit and advanced technology that represents Smart Dubai as a city, UAE as a nation for its "Connecting Minds, Creating the future" Expo2020 theme.