Telecom Egypt’s Journey Towards a Self-Driving Network | Juniper Global Summit
1500 network nodes and counting. How to keep up?
Being a nation’s best source in total communication solutions holds a lot of responsibility. With a fixed-line subscriber base in access of 6.5 million subscribers, Telecom Egypt strategizes how to continue with country’s explosive growth and plan for the future.
How to keep up with customer base capacity
Egypt’s strategic infrastructure pillars
The possibilities digital transformation holds for a country
Who is this for?
0:07 -Hello, everyone. My name is Yarob Sakhnini.
0:09 I am the Vice President of Emerging Markets, EMEA, Juniper Networks.
0:13 Joining me today is Mr. Mohamed Al Fowey,
0:15 Chief Technology Officer at Telecom Egypt.
0:17 Mr. Al Fowey, welcome and thank you for joining us today.
0:21 -Welcome, Yarob, and thank you.
0:23 It's a pleasure to me to be here with you today.
0:26 -Pleasure to have you.
0:27 Telecom Egypt is committed to being the best source of
0:30 total communication solutions.
0:31 The company has a fixed-line subscriber base in access of 6 million subscribers.
0:36 Can you please tell us a little bit more about Telecom Egypt, please?
0:41 Let me give you a brief about Telecom Egypt.
0:44 Telecom Egypt is the first integrated carrier network inside Egypt.
0:49 Last year, we reached 6.5 million fixed broadband subscriber.
0:55 It's more than one million subscriber increase.
0:58 Also, we got a license for the mobile, a 4G Mobile in 2017.
1:05 Now, we are 7.3 million subscriber with an increase 55%.
1:14 Also, we just announced that we have 24% year-over-year increase in the
1:23 revenue with a margin of 75% EBITDA.
1:27 Also, our network this year increased to be more than
1:31 1500 network nodes and almost doubled in our international
1:37 capacity for our customer base.
1:41 -It's always good to see our customers grow.
1:45 This is a good thing to see.
1:48 Can you tell us a little bit about Telecom Egypt's vision
1:51 and strategy to transform its network to accommodate all this
1:55 growth that you're seeing?
2:00 -We in Telecom Egypt, in technical department, we started from 2019
2:06 a total renovation of our network.
2:08 It was a decision made consciously that we need to work for future for
2:14 the next three years, 2019 to 2022.
2:20 Our technical strategy based mainly on three pillars,
2:24 that's all our plan emerged from there.
2:29 The first one is that we will have an integrated converged network,
2:34 a fully converged and modernized network across
2:37 all dimensions starting from access to core or even to service lane.
2:42 The second pillar was to increase the-- As you know,
2:48 we are the incumbent.
2:51 One of our strategic pillar is mainly for the
2:54 infrastructure of Egypt itself.
2:59 One of the pillars we have that to increase and expand
3:03 and strengthen Egypt's carrier infrastructure for all the nation.
3:10 The third one is to work on digital transformation to
3:16 establish new digital services and platforms for our customers.
3:21 This really paid through during 2020 that we faced a growth of
3:28 bandwidth with a high service quality expectation from our customer.
3:34 We looked for a lot of innovative solutions that help us to deliver
3:44 a very good user experience.
3:47 This also is going hand in hand with the strategy we have in Egypt
3:52 and all the nation strategy to have at Egypt 2030 the ICT domain.
4:01 Of course, we still in the middle phase of our digital transformation objective,
4:07 but we are expedited our network transformation.
4:17 The expansion of the three years original plan were made only in
4:24 2019 and early 2020, so actually, we done all the three-year plan.
4:30 We've done it in one year and a half.
4:36 Also, going hand with hand with that in digital transformation,
4:39 we always position Egypt international as a way for all the
4:45 internet traffic going through, but we started from 2020 that we
4:50 need to be a hub for the data.
4:53 That's why we established our largest data center, which would
4:58 be opened by end of June, the large data center on Egypt to serve both
5:06 our international customer and enterprise customer inside Egypt.
5:12 All of this, by the end of last year, we got an success of having Telecom
5:22 Egypt won to be the fastest network in North Africa for Q3 and Q4 2020.
5:34 -Good. Congratulations for winning this award.
5:38 It's good to see our customers always winning with our technology.
5:44 Obviously, last year, you did a lot of transformation with
5:47 regards to the demand of bandwidth and the quality of service
5:51 expectations from customers.
5:54 What challenges did you face before you transformed
5:57 your network that basically kick-started this transformation?
6:04 -One of the major challenges we faced was two things.
6:09 We need to prepare the network,
6:11 which is it's a cloud-driven data-rich application.
6:15 This need's from our enterprise customers, and the second issue was
6:23 coming from the customer experience.
6:30 We made a lot of studies about the customer need for the future.
6:36 This is what actually triggered our plan in 2019, that we need
6:42 to modify the network completely and renovate the network.
6:47 The main one was customer experience and what we are seeing
6:53 of data-rich applications and our enterprise customer request.
6:59 For the next decade, we need to have a new network.
7:04 That's why we started to adapt to the 400 Giga technology
7:07 in imposing our transmission network and an IP network.
7:14 Also, one of the major changes we planned in 2020 is automation to
7:26 deliver to our customer flexibility, and speed, and capacity,
7:31 and security, and all the insight about the customer traffic.
7:36 -Why did you choose Juniper as your primary partner
7:40 throughout this transformation that you're going through?
7:44 How did Juniper help Telecom Egypt solve some of those
7:49 challenges that you mentioned?
7:51 -Okay. Thank you, Yarob.
7:53 Actually, the needs of our customers that they want faster,
7:58 more resilient, and predictable networks.
8:02 To deliver this and meet, let's say a chanllenge
8:06 we are facing with our customer currently,
8:10 all of this, the customer need and we-- Of course,
8:14 you know the CFOs, they're very hungry for revenue and you don't
8:21 want to spend a lot of money, so we have to do this with controlling
8:26 operational costs and the CapEx.
8:28 We believe that Juniper innovations in cloud routing and network automation
8:34 is actually will help us to overcome the challenges in that.
8:37 We are investing in dynamic customizable high-performing
8:40 automated infrastructure that is able to scale upwards,
8:44 all of these to meet exponential goals and future (unclear).
8:50 Let me say that as with Juniper Innovation,
8:52 Telecom Egypt would operate much more efficiently
8:56 and cost-effectively to deliver consistent technical exceptional user experience
9:02 for our business and residential customers alike.
9:06 -I think it's worth mentioning that Juniper's mission is
9:08 Experienced-First Networking, and this aligns very nicely with
9:12 what you're trying to do as well.
9:15 It's a good mix.
9:17 It's a good match.
9:19 You mentioned automation a couple of times already.
9:24 Automation is a big topic already like you know.
9:28 In your view, what are you doing in this area and what advantages
9:34 are you gaining from automation?
9:37 -Okay. Thank you, Yarob.
9:38 Actually, automation is one of the main item when I was doing my
9:45 presentation to support on 2019.
9:50 The automation one was one of the main targets I'm putting to them.
9:57 I was committing them that in three years, we would have in Telecom
10:01 Egypt a full automated network.
10:06 As you know that the customer is totally hungry for bandwidths.
10:13 Whatever bandwidth you offer them, they are hungry for more and more.
10:18 That's why you need to have a higher capacity.
10:23 With higher capacity-- Actually, we worked with Juniper.
10:27 We have a customized configure for the 400G interface goals
10:32 to deliver high density and reliable
10:35 data SKU and low cost perspect.
10:37 You cannot manage a network that
10:39 increasing this much with a human (unclear).
10:44 You need a lot of changes.
10:46 You need the network to be very, very dynamic.
10:53 This cannot be done unless you have a very powerful automation system.
10:59 Actually, I will give you a couple of examples of what
11:04 we have done with Juniper.
11:05 The first one that we leveraged on the open-source automation
11:08 tool which we have from Juniper. Juniper was an advanced server.
11:15 We have advanced service now from Juniper plus our trained team
11:21 to execute all the network needs from expansion and migration efficiently.
11:27 This would be done-- Normal project of expansion or migration
11:36 would take-- If everything is ready, it would take us from
11:39 one to two weeks to expand them.
11:42 Now, actually, we managed to do it overnight with
11:45 the automated tool we have.
11:48 To move a next step forward, last year, we had an agreement with
11:52 Juniper to introduce NorthStar Controller to reach artificial intelligence,
11:59 machine learning, and self-driving network.
12:03 We believe that NorthStar is giving Telecom Egypt a gradual visibility
12:09 and control across the network.
12:11 This solution will also provide proactive monitoring, planning,
12:15 and explicit routing of large traffic loads, helping to achieve and
12:19 maintain consistent performance.
12:24 Really, I need to thank Juniper for this great tool which helped
12:31 us a lot during the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021.
12:40 -It's a pleasure always to help our customers during their expansion,
12:43 and automation plays a big role when expanding as far
12:48 as Telecom Egypt is expanding.
12:50 Mr. Al Fowey, you're considered a visionary in Egypt and a visionary
12:54 across the region actually.
12:56 What do you think is next in our industry from your vision and
13:00 what are you going to bring to Telecom Egypt as a next step?
13:07 -Actually, as I told you, Yarob,
13:10 I believe that automation is the key for the future.
13:16 You are seeing the all huge traffic of data is coming.
13:23 You are seeing all the new data center establishment.
13:27 You are seeing a lot of new technologies on cloud routing and all of this.
13:39 The key solution is AI and machine learning automation solution.
13:46 This is the key for the future for managing a large network
13:51 to deliver a very prestigious experience to our customers.
13:59 This is the key.
14:00 You must be ready to respond immediately to predict fault,
14:08 not waiting fault to happen today. You have to predict the faults.
14:11 You have to (unclear) your scenarios ready.
14:15 You must have an artificial intelligence solutions and automation
14:21 that directly will recover you during (unclear). Also, you will see what
14:27 terrific traffic you are seeing and do the needed customization on capacities
14:32 to accommodate this traffic.
14:34 What I call it is self-driving network.
14:41 No one can say that there will not be human interventions.
14:46 The human is always driving the machine, but you don't wait to analyze,
14:51 make decision, take time to do what is routing A, routing B,
14:57 whatever scenario you have.
14:59 You need it to be done immediately through artificial intelligence.
15:04 That's what I'm seeing.
15:05 Self-driving network with artificial intelligence is the future.
15:09 That's what I'm working on to have it inside Telecom Egypt
15:12 and in my network hopefully by 2021 as I promised.
15:17 -Good. It seems we're aligned in terms of where we see the
15:21 technology moving in the future.
15:24 Mr. Al Fowey, thank you very much for your time and insight.
15:27 Hope to see you soon face-to-face.
15:30 -Hopefully. See you too.
15:31 Okay. Thank you, Yarob. Thank you for your time.