interview


Du: “Revenues generated by mobile broadband will be the dominant factor”

Hatem Bamatraf is the senior VP of network development at Du in the UAE

Hatem Bamatraf is the senior VP of network development at Du in the UAE. He is speaking on the subject of LTE as an evolution to technology and business, on Day One of the LTE MENA conference, on the 29th-30th April 2012, Westin Mina Seyahi, Dubai. He tells Telecoms.com his views on how to arrest declining revenues, the sustainability of unlimited tariffs and touches on issues around spectrum use.

What are the main milestones you have reached with relation to your LTE deployment?

Du has been very active in the area of LTE and we have successfully concluded all our LTE Technology trials. We have also completed the deployment of all the LTE base stations and the associated evolved packet core network. The final plans for our commercial launch is ongoing.

To what extent can LTE provide an insurance against declining revenue streams from voice and SMS?

There is no doubt that the revenues generated from mobile broadband data is increasing and will keep increasing for many years to come. This has been fueled by many factors including the evolution of smartphones and their fast adoption by end-users, the huge growth in video streaming traffic such as YouTube and generally what I call the increase in the “always-on-the-web” attitude. This not only comes from business users, but by youth who have grown up with the concept of always being attached to the internet. With around four billion smartphones and 10 billion smart devices being forecast for 2020, it is clear that the revenue generated by mobile broadband will be the dominant factor.

Is there a place moving forward for unlimited data tariffs? Are they sustainable?

I don’t think “real” unlimited data tariffs were or will be a reality. Even when major operators offered what they called “unlimited data”, they still had a cap on the amount of data being offered in such data packages or bundles. However, it is very important to note that LTE indeed will affect that cap, which will need to be significantly increased given the much bigger pipe that LTE provides to end-users.

With so much focus on the radio access network is there enough attention paid to to backhaul?

Backhaul expansion will play an essential role in any future mobile broadband network evolution. With the radio access network being able to provide such huge bandwidth, operators are already starting to realise how important it is to expand and keep expanding the backhaul network. It is very important to note that this backhaul expansion is not just about increasing the pipe; it is also about having a pipe that is smart, scalable and QoS capable.

What’s your view on the debate over FDD vs TD-LTE spectrum?

The upcoming LTE-Advanced offers unprecedented throughput to end-users. In return, it is a “spectrum-hungry” technology with its “carrier-aggregation” feature. The lack of spectrum for the upcoming LTE-Advanced is certainly an issue. But the efforts in this front are already ongoing, specially with regards to the ‘digital dividend’ in the 700MHz band and even the newly proposed ‘digital dividend 2”, which adds another valuable 100MHz to the original offering. So the real question will be how the standards bodies will come up with the band plan for this spectrum band and the different options for both FDD and TD-LTE.

LTE MENA conference is taking place on the 29th-30th April 2012 Westin Mina Seyahi, Dubai. Click here to register your interest.

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