Telecom Review’s consecutive success throughout the years once again brought together global telecom and ICT leaders under one ceiling to celebrate the ever-evolving technology industry. The Telecom Review Summit kicked off today with a keynote speech by Her Excellency Dr. Aisha Bin Bishr, Director General of Smart Dubai, who shared her vision of a digital and interconnected city.
2017 marks a significant new chapter for the annual Telecom Review Leaders’ Summit: “It’s All About SMART Networking”. This year the conference grew significantly. Due to the growing success of the Summit, and upon requests from Telecom Review partners, the event was extended to cover two days. Tomorrow (Dec. 7) Telecom Review will host its first ITU CXO meeting.
Mr. Toni Eid, CEO of Trace Media International and founder of Telecom Review, welcomed attendees to the Telecom Review Summit this morning, thanking the many event sponsors including Smart Dubai, Huawei, du, Ericsson, NXN, TRA, Nokia, Qualcomm, Vodafone, PCCW Global, CommScope, Sofrecom, Detecon, Alfa, Mavenir, Actel, MYCOM OSI, ITC KSA, M800, Accenture, IPT PowerTech, Internet Society, and SIGFOX.
The extension of the Telecom Review Summit allowed exhibitors in the demo area more time to showcase their innovative solutions with industry leaders and experts from around the globe and enjoy everything the event has to offer, including in-depth panel discussions and networking opportunities.
In her keynote speech, H.E. Dr. Aisha Bin Bishr highlighted the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to make Dubai the smartest and happiest city in the world. Dr. Aisha touched on many topics, including the Dubai Blockchain Strategy, the Dubai Data Initiative, and the role of artificial intelligence in Dubai becoming a smart city.
Dr. Aisha spoke about Smart Dubai’s relationship with ITU, the specialized agency of the United Nations that is responsible for issues that concern information and communication technologies. Smart Dubai worked with ITU to develop KPIs so that cities could be ranked against each other. Dubai was a pilot for these city KPIs, which was only possible, Dr. Aisha said, because “the sky’s the limit” for Dubai.
“Smart Dubai is pushing the boundaries and we're championing technology that will improve the lives of the every citizen in Dubai,” said Dr. Aisha. "We're building the most advanced Internet of Things ecosystem in the smartest city in the world."
Dr. Aisha said Smart Dubai aims to develop technology tools for people that are easy to understand. This works in Dubai, she said, because the population of citizens and residents are agile and there is a large youth population. “There must be a reason behind all our actions,” she said. “We host brainstorming sessions with our citizens to understand what experiences they expect from the city.”
Dr. Aisha added, "City experiences are more important than the technology itself. Our objective is to create experiences that are efficient, impactful and seamless so we improve the lives of our citizens."
The evolution of smart cities and Internet of Things (IoT) were leading topics of discussion at the conference, along with discussions on 5G and the challenges facing regulation, as well as smart city presentations, talks on cyber-security, and data management.
The event hosted esteemed guests from government to partake in the “Government Leaders Panel: A look into the future”. His Excellency Yasser El Kady, Minister of Communications and Information Technology in Egypt, participated in the panel discussion and offered his perspective on Egypt’s progress in terms of digitization.
His Excellency talked about Egypt’s vision to embrace digital practices. He praised Her Excellency Dr. Aisha for points she made in her speech about the role of government in improving the lives of citizens but with help from the private sector. Automation and digitization can limit corruption in government, said His Excellency. He said the Egyptian President is pushing forward for the nation to adopt digital practices.
“There's a lot more consuming than producing of technology in the Arab region and this needs to change,” said NXN CEO Ghazi Atallah, moderating the Government Leaders Panel. The panelists emphasized how government leaders need to be willing to embrace up-and-coming startups and encourage entrepreneurship for smart cities to flourish.
Osman Sultan, CEO of EITC, the parent company of the “du” and “Virgin Mobile UAE” brands, delivered the official telecom operator keynote speech. "The fate of companies has never been so uncertain," said Mr. Sultan, speaking about how long-standing business models need to change and adapt to stay relevant. "Our business models are changing from vertical to horizontal. Telecom and media are now converged,” he said.
Mr. Sultan added, "I see telcos becoming infrastructure businesses, digital media businesses and ICT businesses.” Vodafone Partner Markets CEO, Diego Massidda, joined the conversation, saying big data and analytics will deliver better customer experiences, as will artificial intelligence (AI) and automation - such as chat-bots that create efficiency for both customers and the company.
The first day of the Summit will conclude with the Telecom Review Excellence Awards where companies are recognized for their capabilities in specific sectors. An independent panel of 15 experienced industry veterans determines the winners, along with a jury that includes representatives from the carrier arena, telecom/ICT vendor arena and the ICT investment banking arena.
Tomorrow the Telecom Review Summit will host its first ITU CXO meeting. ITU hosted the first CXO meeting in October 2016 in Tunisia. The conclusion of the first CXO meeting went on to feed discussions in ITU on the promotion of OTT (over-the-top) innovation, possible regulatory approaches to OTT, and the value of partnerships between OTT players and network operators.
Day 2 of the Telecom Review Summit will also see a keynote speech by the President of Qualcomm Middle East, Africa and Eastern Europe, Mr. Jay Srage, who will discuss 5G and how it enables an era of artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and machine learning. There will also be a panel discussion on artificial intelligence, with panelists from Smart Dubai Government, M800, Nokia Bell Labs, SIGFOX, Detecon and NEC.