SCF CEO Sue Monahan reports back from SCWS MENA in Dubai.
I’ve just delivered the keynote presentation at Small Cells MENA conference in Dubai. It’s great to be in the region again – especially in such a dynamic and highly competitive market. One of the defining characteristics of this region is that, broadly speaking, this was a market that was slow to adopt 3G, but in many places leapfrogged into 4G. In fact, some of the operators we’ve spoken to here say that in their markets the strategy is for a dense 4G-first approach – with small cells at the heart of their game plan. Another is that across the region in general there’s a lower installed base of public Wi-Fi than elsewhere, which is raising profile of small cells – although here in Dubai the DSOA initiative made the delivery of ubiquitous free public Wi-Fi its number one priority.
Over the next two or three years, market projections describe significant growth in small cell deployments. Carriers here are already starting to see particular acceleration in the non-residential market, especially in countries where public Wi-Fi is less established. A recent Rethink survey of MENA carriers indicates that while, for example, small cell deployments in North Africa have been slower to take off than elsewhere in the region, they appear set to overtake the rest of MENA by 2019. In fact, by 2019 Rethink predicts CAGR of 145% in North Africa and 95% in the Middle East – higher than global CAGR of 66% for non-residential small cell deployments.
And what we’re finding is different patterns for market drivers here than globally. For a start, the emphasis on rural coverage, indoor quality and IoT is higher than the global average. Capacity and cost are less serious constraints than in many regions (though still important) Unsurprisingly, in the more developed markets there’s high interest in new architectures such as IoT and virtualization, especially in the Middle East, with a strong emphasis on requirements associated with smart cities. One of the keynotes here was from Mr Ghanim Al Falasi, VC of Dubai’s Smart Oasis initiative, partnering with Du, Etisalat and Microsoft to roll out an ambitious smart city complex in the heart of the city by 2018.
I’ve been delighted to find that many of SCF’s current work items resonate with the carriers we’ve been speaking with – especially our virtualization, IoT and Enterprise initiatives. Looking forward to one-on-ones aimed at collecting detailed requirements over the next few days.
You can download the presentation here>>