du’s Smart New Generation
Writer: Emily Jarvis
Project Manager: Donovan Smith
Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, UAE’s major broadband and telecom provider, du now serves more than eight million individual costumers, 80,000 businesses and proudly retains a mobile subscriber market share of 46.5 percent.
Over time, the Company has become a provider of choice in UAE telecoms with many awards and accolades to its name today; including the Best Enterprise Service award by Telecom World; Broadcast Pro Middle East 2015 award for Best Telco/Broadcast initiative for the du ‘View’ multi-screen service; the Gallup Great Workplace 2015 award; and the Best Satellite Services Innovation of the Year award at the 12th annual Digital Studio Awards, among several others. This translates into unparalleled customer service levels that mirror the rich cultural diversity of the nation, serving customers in a variety of languages across a wide array of technology verticals.
“Our business has evolved with the changing times and we are no longer in the business of just providing telephony services. We provide the network infrastructure for connectivity to occur across the entire information and communications technology spectrum, encompassing new growth areas,” says Saleem AlBlooshi, du’s Executive Vice President of Network Development & Operations.
“We are taking our role as a responsible corporate citizen seriously and we endeavour to support the UAE Government with its Smart City initiative. We were the first telecom Company in the world to release a Sustainability Report based on GRI-G4 comprehensive guidelines, and today we are the strategic partner of the Dubai Smart Government,” adds Marwan Abdulla Bindalmook, du’s Senior Vice President of Managed Services & Smart City/Smart Gov Initiative Lead.
du has worked hard to enhance and expand its “bouquet of services in an industry that is at the heart of economic and social transformation”, the Company notes. Providing carrier services, a data hub, internet exchange facilities and satellite services for broadcasters to generate extra value for businesses and customers, du is fostering a culture of continuous improvement across all of its products and services to ultimately benefit the customer.
In line with this, the Company enhanced its broadband portfolio with high-speed offerings, and integrated its broadcast and telecom assets to create one-stop shop enterprise solutions for SMEs; with highlights including the launch of new Business Mobile Plans and Business Connect, serving as the complete telecommunications solution.
The Company launched the fastest consumer internet service in the UAE last year, while also enriching its quad-play offers with new TV packages. Elsewhere, du continued to foster growth in its higher value, post-paid customer base. Key expansions included new Emirati post-paid plans, iPhone 6S and several other device bundled offers, and the launch of data contract plans representing the best-in-market offers for post-paid customers. For its core customers the Company launched social plans, ‘Easy Social’ and ‘Extra Social’, combined prepaid voice and data bundle-based plans.
Dedicated to nationwide digitisation and innovation, the Company remains deeply committed to UAE’s Smart Government objectives having supported the Government Summit as headline partner for three years. Building on its proposition of a world-class ‘Smart Dubai’ platform, a digital backbone that is to power the city in the near future, du began 2016 with the signing of a strategic partnership with SAP during the World Government Summit that will enable UAE Government enterprises to gain access to smart applications; in addition to its partnership with TRA’s FEDNet programme and many other promising industry relationships.
Having already laid the foundations for a smart city with Wi-Fi UAE and the first Internet of Things (IoT) network in the Middle East (LoRa network), du is ensuring the backbone of the Smart City and integration of IoT is available to help the Government to realise this vision. By integrating systems of vendor-agnostic and open platforms, du believes Dubai can foster unlimited innovation and adoption of all evolving technologies to create a Smart Dubai.
“Telecommunications infrastructure is the backbone to any smart city project,” highlights Carlos Domingo, du’s Chief New Business and Innovation Officer. “As the official smart city partner to Dubai Smart Government we are providing both a platform for integration and collaboration, in addition to offering communications. This gives us a competitive advantage over other service providers to ensure collaboration during the project. However, the importance of telecommunications within a smart city network also necessitates high levels of innovation and collaboration, as well as commitment.”
Offering a wide range of back-end and customer-facing solutions – including enterprise resource planning, human capital management for human resources, customer relationship management, marketing, and analytics and business intelligence – du brings a thorough knowhow of Dubai’s landmark approach to smart cities, exemplified by the Company’s ongoing smart city initiatives, continuing investment in smart infrastructure and longstanding support of entrepreneurship and fostering innovation. In delivering the Smart Dubai platform, du will pioneer a capex free, flexible, partnership-based business model that is unlike any platform-based city model operating in the world today.
Domingo adds: “The Smart Dubai platform is a unique undertaking for any city in the world. Several leading cities have established ICT platforms, but often limited them to specific uses or a single dimension. The newly-conceived Smart Dubai platform unites city services, IoT, cloud services, big data and digital identity across all city dimensions to build the most comprehensive exchange point for Government and private sector services, delivering unprecedented value for the city.
“As an additional socio-economic advantage, local high-tech talent and job skill development will also increase in response to the developing market.”
Designed to significantly enhance real-time and data-driven decision-making capabilities, the platform enables city leaders to engage in community-wide dialogues and analyse rich city data across multiple dimensions; thus becoming an essential asset for Dubai’s seamless economic growth.
In early 2012, the ITU, the standardisation group of the United Nations, embarked on a programme to develop “IMT for 2020 and beyond”, setting the stage for 5G research activities that are emerging around the world. In September, 2015, ITU finalised its vision for a 5G mobile broadband-connected society. The technology will be instrumental to the UAE Government’s smart city plans and is now beginning to attract investment attention globally.
“5G will provide multiple use cases and will utilise a set of new technologies, including new radio access technology. However, it is important to note that 4G LTE will continue to evolve from now until beyond 2020 and will indeed be the mainstream technology by 2020 until the introduction and commercialisation of 5G at a later stage,” explains AlBlooshi.
“The ITU has set out a standardisation timetable in its IMT-2020 initiative and currently, we are at the stage of definition of technical performance requirements, evaluation criteria and methods, and submission templates. The next phase will be the submission of proposals for evaluation.”
Apart from commercial focus, du believes that corporate social responsibility (CSR) should be built into the fabric of its organisation and implemented at every level, rather than an additional consideration or afterthought of investment. This is not just embedded in its vision to ‘do good’, but it is rooted in its strategy to be a strong and sustainable business.
With its own sustainability team that actively seeks volunteering opportunities that align with the Company’s sustainability pillars – comprising education, environment, entrepreneurship and the UAE’s heritage, culture and society – du takes part in at least two CSR activities a month.
2015 marked the first full year of du’s official corporate volunteering policy, allowing all staff one paid working day to contribute towards community initiatives.
Last year, 315 du employees contributed more than 2,400 hours towards volunteering activities. Furthermore, the Company’s Ramadan project, Mawaed Al Rahman, engaged 933 of the UAE’s residents, who collectively contributed more than 3,100 hours.
Each year, Ramadan brings an opportunity to engage with the community and bring happiness to people’s lives. During 2016, du also committed to a donation of AED 3 million for the Ramadan ‘Reading Nation’ campaign as implemented by H.H Sheikh Mohammed Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
Taking an active role in this campaign is confirmation of the Company’s commitment towards upholding the values of religion as well as recognising the importance of reading for the future of the region to ultimately secure a better future for the youth of tomorrow.
2020 and beyond
Considered a core player on the road to achieving the UAE’s smart city initiatives, du is keen to constantly develop its network and portfolio of products and services to better address the customers’ needs while identifying the vast opportunities that will grow its market share.
Committed to not only creating career opportunities for all, but also providing staff with a working environment that allows individuals to reach their full potential, du prioritises the wellbeing, progression and engagement of its colleagues while supporting the wider undertones of the UAE’s vision.
Further bolstered by the Gallup Great Workplace award for the second consecutive year, the telecoms outlook for the remainder of this 2016 is an exciting one for du. 5G will remain at the forefront of research and development for telcos around the world.
With the UAE witnessing an ongoing technology-driven development, du is multiplying its efforts to avail the latest and most developed products and services to one of the most tech-savvy societies in the world.
AlBlooshi concludes: “We have focused on forming a strategy and constantly developing the network to march in line with the progress towards defining and achieving 5G. This year we made a successful contribution to the ITU Study Group on 5G, and we believe that it cements our objective to be the first in the market with pioneering technologies. Our investment in infrastructure will be the key to driving future progress.”