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In an exclusive interview with Saleem Alblooshi, the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of du, the discussion revolved around the impact of 5G usage on more than 60% of du's mobile network traffic. This development has set in motion a transformative wave in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry within the UAE. Alblooshi also shed light on du's ambitious plans to revolutionise the network experience for customers through the implementation of a cutting-edge optical backbone network. This infrastructure is poised to elevate the network performance to unprecedented heights.

Additionally, he provided valuable insights into the development of a future-ready network that is geared towards optimizing efficiency and adaptability. With the ever-evolving landscape of 5G connectivity, he presented an exciting glimpse into the future as du customers can eagerly anticipate the evolution to 5G-Advanced. This advancement holds the promise of delivering an exceptional mobile broadband experience that surpasses even the loftiest of expectations.

Over 60% of du's mobile network traffic is now driven by 5G usage. What does this mean for du and the overall ICT industry in the UAE?

Over the past four years, our commitment to the rollout of our 5G infrastructure has resulted in remarkable progress. The success of this endeavor can be measured by two key factors: the capacity and utilisation of our infrastructure. These vital indicators are a testament to our achievements thus far. At present, our network traffic consistently exceeds 60% on a weekly basis, highlighting the significant surge in new traffic generated by our cutting-edge 5G network. This shift from 3G and 4G to the superior capabilities of our 5G infrastructure serves as a clear affirmation of its triumph.

Another measure of our successful rollout is the ever-growing number of customers who have chosen to embrace our innovative 5G network. With over 300,000 subscribers benefiting from our exceptional fixed services access network, we have earned their trust by delivering unparalleled services and an unrivaled customer experience.

Our commitment to providing unparalleled coverage in the UAE is unwavering, as we proudly extend our presence to an impressive 98.5% of highly populated areas. Continual investments in the enhancement and upgrading of our network from an internet perspective further reinforce our commitment to delivering unmatched value to our esteemed customers.

Also read: du to Drive Digital Transformation in the UAE

Please elaborate on how du's new optical backbone network will provide an enhanced network experience to its customer’s segments.

At the heart of our operations lies the backbone infrastructure, serving as the central hub for all traffic emanating from various technologies. In our case, both our mobile network and fiber infrastructure contribute to the surge in traffic. The growth we have witnessed can be attributed to the seamless integration of our 5G infrastructure.

Cognizant of the ever-increasing demands of our esteemed customers and the exponential rise in traffic, we have proactively recognised the urgency to bolster and expand our core infrastructure. A cornerstone of our network lies in the optical network, which prompted us to embark on a recent infrastructure upgrade from multiple 100-gigabit per second to a 400-gigabit per second capacity. This enhancement has considerably fortified our capabilities to withstand the tide of traffic growth, consequently amplifying the overall customer experience.

Our commitment to investing in advanced optical infrastructure has empowered us to deliver superior quality services upon our valued customers. Reinforced with cutting-edge capabilities and features, our upgraded infrastructure propels us to deliver an unparalleled experience, setting the standard for excellence in the industry.

Please tell us about du's collaborative efforts in developing an optimised and future-ready network. What are the challenges and opportunities?

The surging customer demand for higher bandwidth capacity, coupled with the need for lower latency and the proliferation of IoT devices within our infrastructure, necessitates a commitment to continuous innovation in our network architecture.

From an infrastructure standpoint, our pursuit of excellence drives us to upgrade various components, including our optical infrastructure, core IP infrastructure, telecom facilities, and data centers. Simultaneously, we are expanding our computing capabilities within these data centers, fostering unparalleled advancements in this domain.

In the realm of access networks, we remain dedicated to revamping our 5G network and implementing our 5G advanced infrastructure. To further amplify our service reach, we are expanding our fiber infrastructure nationwide. These endeavors demand an integration of new layers and a fresh approach to executing our business strategies, ensuring a seamless end-to-end experience for our customers.

The immense potential of AI transcends into the realm of coping with customer demands and carving an intelligent network. Our infrastructure is designed to be customer-aware, not only from a network perspective but also from a service standpoint. This customer-centric approach empowers us to proactively identify and promptly address any customer-related issues, determine the root causes, and ultimately predict and prevent future challenges.

At the very core of our technology and corporate strategy lies sustainability. As we forge ahead with our network rollout, infrastructure expansion, and technological advancements, we ardently prioritise the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the mitigation of carbon dioxide emissions stemming from our operations. Environmental stewardship serves as a cornerstone of our focus.

To realise our sustainability goals, we have initiated multiple impactful endeavors. One initiative revolves around the demonstration of innovative solar-on-tower technology, a solution catering to mobile sites with limited space. This solution serves as a catalyst in curbing carbon dioxide emissions from our network, reinforcing our commitment to fostering a sustainable future.

Moreover, the implementation of free cooling capabilities in our infrastructure serves as a vital tool in minimizing energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions. Our hybrid solutions seamlessly combine generators with batteries, empowering us to regulate and control our carbon dioxide emissions. The integration of lithium batteries into our sites represents yet another innovative and environmentally conscious solution that bolsters our commitment to sustainable practices.

Furthermore, harnessing the transformative capabilities of AI allows us to optimize our operational practices and effectively reduce our environmental impact. Through continuous innovation and capitalising on the immense potential of AI, we remain dedicated to our pursuit of achieving sustainability.

As 5G connectivity transitions to 5G-Advanced, being a digital-first telco, what can du customers expect in terms of superior mobile broadband experience?

In response to the escalating demand for 5G network and traffic, we are adapting and implementing cutting-edge technologies within our infrastructure. At present, the 5G traffic alone accounts for a significant 60% of all new mobile traffic on our network. With a commitment to maintaining our position as a leader in the industry and meeting the ever-growing demand, we are actively expanding and integrating 5G advanced technologies.

Through our partnership with Huawei, we have incorporated 5G advancements into our live network. As the call for enhanced services and amplified network traffic persists, our upcoming expansion phase will rely on the capabilities of 5G and its advanced technologies. Our dedication to our customers drives us to continuously adapt and implement the latest technological advancements, guaranteeing the evolution and progression of our telecom infrastructure in the UAE. By doing so, we empower our customers to indulge in the most cutting-edge and unparalleled services that are synonymous with the du infrastructure.

Also read: du at GITEX: Digitally Transforming Parks With Dubai Municipality

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