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Digital innovation is what intrigues the industry, the world and companies like Etisalat today. But, if you go back centuries, the inception of what you see today is due to the constant need to innovate. This need to bring change to make an impact in our daily lives has given rise to some revolutionary ideas and inventions.

At Etisalat, we take digital innovation seriously, and as a result, pursue ideas and opportunities to make the digital future a reality. It is challenging to pen down a single idea that has intrigued us, as we work with various partners on futuristic technologies to bring digital innovations and solutions to our consumers and to make it part of their lifestyle.

Digital innovation is central to Etisalat’s journey to transform from a traditional telco into a digital telco. Our digital innovation initiatives are manifested through our diverse product portfolio, digital experience, internal digitization, network modernization and our multiple steps to support the innovating environment in the UAE.

Investing in innovation

Etisalat believes in investing in a future that will lay the foundation for ideas. This has led to investment in our next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators. Our partnership with the government-supported accelerator program, Dubai Future Accelerators, is a testament to the company’s belief and philosophy that we have to work hand in hand with the next generation, and give them the building blocks to create and innovate to make the digital future a reality.

The launch of the innovation program, Future Now by Etisalat Digital, was another step in this direction, which will open doors for more collaboration with startups, IoT developers, government entities, enterprises and their end users. Future Now has four key pillars: Scale-ups Program, Co-creation Lab, IoT Partner Ecosystem and Innovation Center.

Francisco Salcedo, SVP, Etisalat Digital, said:“The future is taking shape from our actions today, and we believe that the best way forward is to collaborate and innovate in the way we work with our partners and clients. Future Now by Etisalat Digital will open doors for these collaborations to happen, and with Etisalat’s digital platforms and wide reach, we are committed to supporting innovators to bring their disruptive technologies to reality.”

The Scale-ups Program of Future Now opens doors to tech startups and companies from across the globe to accelerate their business in the UAE and partner with Etisalat to bring new solutions to the market. Start-ups will get access to workshops and mentorship sessions, opportunities in the UAE market, in addition to co-working spaces where they can work closely with key stakeholders from Etisalat.

The Future Now Co-creation Lab enables customers to “co-construct” feasible and viable solutions using a sharpened design thinking process and human-centered approach to generate fresh ideas for solving complex problems to enhance business results.

Future Now includes, as well, an IoT partnerships ecosystem, where it invites developers and innovators ranging from IoT companies to talented university students, to build, test and integrate their applications utilizing Etisalat digital solutions and platforms. With developers being part of Etisalat’s IoT ecosystem, they will have access to hands-on IoT workshops, hackathons and events.

5G to be a game changer

5G will be a game changer for the telecom industry with its rich potential, an evolution that would elevate services, performance and enablement. Such new technologies are one of the gateways enabling UAE’s digital aspiration/vision, market trends and Etisalat’s long-term strategy.

Saeed Al Zarouni, senior vice president, Mobile Network, Etisalat, highlighted: “Etisalat has taken the lead in 5G this year and this is a testimony to our long-standing efforts in bringing growth and innovation to the country, laying the foundation for smart city development. We believe 5G technologies and services will deliver capacity and connectivity along with opportunities for economic growth, education, healthcare, transportation and more.”

Etisalat launched 5G in the UAE in May this year with a limited number of sites in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and are now in collaboration with telecoms vendors worldwide to have 600 basestations before the end of 2019.

“This will give coverage to all the main cities in the UAE. We are now pushing the mobile handset makers to speed up their side of production to ensure the 5G service is well used,” said Zarouni.

Etisalat customers will have access to 5G internet speeds in homes and on mobile devices by September next year. With speeds of up to 100 gigabits a second, 5G could be 35 times faster than 4G. Latency, or delay, will also be a game changer for mobile technology.

Etisalat aims to reduce latency to less than 10 milliseconds on the new 5G network, which a third of the lag time on 4G. The new network is also likely to be cheaper to use, and health care is considered the most likely to unlock new profits.

At GITEX Technology week this year, Etisalat’s RoboPharmacy, an unmanned futuristic pharmacy system and an automated system, was a 5G showcase that can use a 5G connection between the hospital and pharmacy.

The automated system uses a 5G connection between the hospital and pharmacy to send data on prescriptions for patients that can then be collected. Operations could also be done remotely using 5G and special haptic gloves worn by surgeons from hundreds of kilometers away.

“These solutions are aimed at creating a more efficient and reliable healthcare system and transforming the health care of tomorrow,” said Dr. Ahmed bin Ali, a senior vice president at Etisalat.

“By creating these telemedicine networks where caregivers can collaborate, patients can have easy access to the best care possible regardless of where they live.”

Etisalat’s investment in 5G technologies is a prime example that has gained relevance because it is considered a major enabler for the next generation of broadband service and the internet of things, which is growing exponentially due to the global adoption of connected devices.

With its implementation, 5G will provide opportunities for economic growth and massive developments in the areas of ICT infrastructure, education, employment, transportation and more.

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