Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (EITC), the Dubai-based telecoms operator known as du, is tapping into the potential of the metaverse to enhance its network capabilities, its chief technology officer has said.
The company is working on a “strong programme” to construct digital twins of its data centres and infrastructure to boost operational efficiency, decrease costs and improve quality, Saleem AlBlooshi told The National.
“The metaverse is unavoidable. As a direct result of this, using the internet will result in a higher level of emotional engagement,” he said.
“We consider the metaverse to be a game changer in the next phase, and its anticipation drives network bandwidth,” he added, referring to the maximum amount of data that can be transmitted over a network and which is expected to increase significantly with the growing number of users.
The digital twins will be able to simulate various scenarios, which, in turn, can be replicated in the company's actual physical operations, Mr AlBlooshi said.
The metaverse is the emerging space where people can interact in virtual worlds using three-dimensional representations.
The technology can allow companies to streamline operations through interactive means. In the case of industries, it can immerse workers in a digital replica of their infrastructure with the help of hardware such as augmented reality headsets and the related software.
In a recent global survey by Accenture, 71 per cent of respondents said shifting to the metaverse will have a positive business impact.
Du boosted its network infrastructure investments by “more than 100 per cent” in 2021 at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, Mr AlBlooshi said. Those investments did not involve the metaverse, but have set the company up for its latest plans to tap into the virtual world.
As with other industries that needed to cope with the new reality stemming from the global health crisis, the pandemic prompted du to ramp up their investments. Before Covid-19 hit, the company in 2019 said it was increasing its capital expenditure by 70 per cent to boost the roll-out of its 5G services.
“The acceleration of investments shows the commitment of the telecoms industry in rolling out better infrastructure,” Mr AlBlooshi said.
“Networks that will deal with the metaverse must have huge capacity, computing power and low latency to be able to accommodate the components of the metaverse, particularly blockchain networks and connected devices that are expected to explode in the coming years.”
The number of connected devices globally, which will comprise the Internet of Things, is projected to more than double to about 29.4 billion by 2030 from an estimated 13.1 billion in 2022, data from Statista show.
The pandemic also shifted the company's business model by making it more agile to keep up with the fast pace of change in user demographics, particularly in providing services from offices to homes and, eventually, any place users decide to perform their tasks, he said.
“Customers today are more attached to the network; therefore, we have to ensure that the criteria or the way we are managing this whole infrastructure has to change according to the changes of our customer needs.”
It also prompted du to tap into artificial intelligence, which, Mr AlBlooshi said, enables the company to further digitise its network and, more importantly, predict user behaviour.
Meanwhile, the shift to the next mobile communication standard, 6G, is expected to be sooner than the gap between 4G and 5G, Mr AlBlooshi said. He added that while still at an early stage, regulators are already engaged in discussions to define the technology and draw up its accompanying standards.
“Historically, telecoms companies have never failed to address the demand from consumers,” Mr AlBlooshi said.