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Smart Cities Are a New and Exciting Market

Arabian Reseller speaks to Ehab Kanary, the Vice President of Enterprise for Middle East and Africa at CommScope about the company’s plans for 2019

How was 2018 for the industry and your company?
Our markets are changing, and this change is happening faster than ever. Many of our customers are under tremendous pressure to perform more efficiently and are facing increasing sources of competition. Ensuring that we are a critical part of this transformation is part of our goal to be the preferred partner to our customers, our suppliers, our distributors, our channel partners, and even our technology partners.

What sort of opportunities did 2018 bring along?
As we see the proliferation of mobility, cloud, the internet of things, virtual augmentation, and other factors, the world is becoming more connected and CommScope has an opportunity to become a bigger force in helping our customers transform their networks to support a connected lifestyle. We are doing this by helping them solve problems, such as building more network for less money and doing it much faster. The more CommScope can provide simple, elegant, efficient solutions that help our customers to quickly build, optimize, and operate their networks, the more valuable of a partner we will be.

Did you face any challenges in 2018?
Being a preferred partner starts internally, with our speed, flexibility and responsiveness. We are focused on continued improvement there, knowing it ultimately benefits our customers and partners, enabling us to perform and create value for shareholders.

In 2018, the changes we made in CommScope was to improve our velocity, meaning delivering our products and services faster to our customers.  We’ve done this by coupling our manufacturing, R&D and product line organisations together.  From design to delivery, we get faster and are able to service our customers faster in an ever growing market at a more rapid pace.

What were your key achievements in 2018?
CommScope has never been more future-focused than we are today, and we want to thank our thousands of customer partners all over the world for trusting us with the future of their networks. We live in a transformative time in the history of communications, and CommScope intends that our partners’ networks will grow and thrive in the year ahead—and far beyond.

Innovation is about our products and we’re working with our customers to improve our products and our services. It’s all about being more efficient. So for example, with 5G, it’s about making our network more efficient, more bits for the same dollar for our customers and eventually their customers. We’ve had a lot of announcements in 2018 about our products, we’ve had collaborations with the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) such as Nokia.  Here are a couple of key announcements:

CommScope has been increasing its pace, introducing things more rapidly to serve this ever advancing market.

What promises does 2019 bring along?
As we discussed at GITEX 2018, cities are being built from the ground up and this region is driving innovation around future of urbanism. Abu Dhabi and Dubai are among those cities seeking creative ways to use data to improve services and quality of life around healthcare, security, mobility, economic development and housing.  Saudi is building four new cities by 2020, which means fibre can be laid everywhere without disruption to traffic and businesses. The UAE’s Smart City project is uncovering ways to improve traffic and energy networks across the globe.

Smart Cities are a new and exciting market which brings together government and businesses to create something that will be more efficient for everybody. We see this as a great opportunity for CommScope as we support the basic infrastructure. The fibre that will connect everything together will come from CommScope. The poles and the radio-frequency equipment inside of them, the interconnects will come from CommScope. All of these will be the basic foundation that enables smart cities to do so much more than they do today, like traffic control and crime prevention, ultimately this will contribute to making citizens in these cities more efficient and happier.

Do you see opportunities on the market with Dubai Expo 2020 just around the corner?
The Dubai 2020 Expo will have one of the world’s largest installations of smart building technologies. As we mentioned previously, Smart Cities are a new and exciting market which brings together government and businesses to create something that will be more efficient for everybody.   

According to a recent report by KPMG, the amount spent on smart cities on technology is set to double in the coming four years within the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region. The total spending is anticipated to increase from $1.3 Billion (AED 4.771 Billion) to $2.7 Billion (AED 9.909 Billion) during the review period.

Smart communities will enrich the lives of residents and make local governments more efficient in responding to their citizens’ needs. From security to convenience to revenue generation, smart city applications will change the way cities operate and the way we live and work. But it all starts with connectivity – smart city residents, vehicles, systems and applications must be connected, and in most cases that involves fiber infrastructure.

According to you, which technologies will be in demand in 2019?
“Digital transformation” in the data center has achieved buzzword status among media and marketers everywhere, but there are real benefits to be gained from embracing the migration from manual, analog information systems to automated digital ones. Diverse companies like Boeing, Google, IBM and Uber achieve notable successes by embracing digital processes. CEOs of other companies are catching on.

According to IDC, annual spending on digital transformation (DX) initiatives in the Middle East, Turkey and Africa is set to cross the $20 Billion (AED 73.4 Billion0 mark by the end of 2018. And, by 2020, the Middle East’s data centre spending and investment is expected to reach a new record high of $5 Billion (AED 18 Billion).

There will be more demand for digital transformation initiatives than ever before in 2019 because CEOs are finally realizing that for their companies to stay relevant, their businesses need to transform. As 5G networks and devices start to come online in 2019, this will drive several kinds of technology that will be needed. Data center managers simply need to be prepared.

There are five technologies that will continue to significantly impact data centers in 2019: 5G wireless, the Internet of Things (IoT), virtual/augmented reality (VR/AR), blockchain, and artificial intelligence (AI). Looking ahead, 2019 is set to be a year of preparation and convergence as building owners and managers lay the groundwork for future developments to address these trends.

What will be your key focus areas for 2019?
For building owners and managers, 2019 will be an exciting year as they prepare for the impact of data and IoT, as well as wireless and wireline trends. This will push for convergence of infrastructure and technology that will be adopted by smart buildings, smart campuses and smart cities.

Technologies like AI, VR, blockchain and IoT have been around but are in the process of maturing and showing benefits that will bring about more adoption in 2019 and will force a digital transformation in the data center. To prepare for digital transformation, data center managers will implement advanced network infrastructures to make their networks faster, more ubiquitous, more reliable and more secure. By migrating to higher-speed networks, expanding the reach of fiber and wireless links, and adopting edge computing strategies, companies can lay a firm foundation for digital transformation in 2019.

What milestones have you set for 2019?
Many of the industry buzzwords that were talked about this past year will continue into 2019 and be the driver for changes in smart building. Data and the Internet of Things (IoT); wireless connectivity and mobile edge computing (MEC); and cabling and standards will be the biggest drivers. These will lead to convergence and the need for preparation as smart buildings become the foundation for smart campuses and smart cities.

Looking ahead, 2019 is set to be a year of preparation and convergence as building owners and managers lay the groundwork for future developments to address these trends.  CommScope is committed to helping customers generate more profits with seamless in-building wireless coverage, best in class structured cabling solutions, intelligence infrastructure and power over the Ethernet solutions.

5G is here (albeit in small doses)! All the hype and irrational exuberance of a few years ago is turning into initial pilot deployments. It’s an exciting time, especially for those of us in the trenches of 5G development.

As network operators focus on achieving 5G performance, they’ll need to eliminate network bottlenecks by adding more small cells, more fiber and mobile edge computing to their networks. The industry has been most successful with deploying and utilizing more fiber. Many operators worldwide are committed to a fiber-heavy and fiber-deep future. The 5G future continues to shine brightly ahead and CommScope is a committed partner who will provide communications infrastructure to create the “network of networks”—which will deliver higher bandwidth and lower latency than ever before.

All of the technologies like AI, VR and IoT have been around but are in the process of maturing and showing benefits that will bring about more adoption in 2019 and will force a digital transformation in the data center. To prepare for digital transformation, data center managers will implement advanced network infrastructures to make their networks faster, more ubiquitous, more reliable and more secure.

Do you plan to enter new markets or add new products / applications to your portfolio in 2019?
CommScope spends approximately 200 million U.S. dollars per year in R&D.  We’ll continue to identify innovation which helps customers solve problems, such as building more network for less money and doing it much faster.

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Chris Fernando

Chris N. Fernando is an experienced media professional with over two decades of journalistic experience. He is the Editor of Arabian Reseller magazine, the authoritative guide to the regional IT industry. Follow him on Twitter (@chris508) and Instagram (@chris2508).

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