GITEX Global 2022: e& Takes Its First Step Into The Metaverse


e&, formerly known as Etisalat Group, is set to enthral stand-goers at GITEX Global 2022 by inviting them to enter the next digital universe with the soft launch of their virtual world, e& universe.

This move marks a significant achievement in the Group’s transformation journey to a global technology and investment conglomerate as it takes its first steps into the metaverse.

Hatem Dowidar, Group CEO, e& shares his views on why telcos must adopt the metaverse in enhancing customer experience and boosting the digitalisation journeys of enterprises.

Metaverse technology may be in the early incubation stages, given that it needs high-bandwidth and low-latency communications to work at scale. Still, telcos must consider harnessing its potential for the betterment of lives, whether it is a virtual playground or shopping destination, or even using it as a training ground for smarter, more efficient AI and industrial manufacturing processes. We all envision that getting it to work at the grand scale will require robust connectivity solutions. This is where 5G becomes the fulcrum, given that mobile networks may not be able to handle the metaverse network demands.

According to a report by Ericsson, 5G is a critical enabler for the metaverse and its entire ecosystem, as it has a global reach, including roaming capabilities. For the metaverse’s cloud and edge-cloud (MEC) capabilities, 5G also offers low latency, offload processing and enhanced render level of detail (LOD). To harness the power of the metaverse, telcos must expand beyond their traditional capabilities and more towards embracing a growth mindset where they are open to exploring innovative ideas. In fact, telcos can play a more prominent role in the metaverse value chain by leveraging emerging technologies such as 5G, edge cloud, analytics and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

In fact, there are endless opportunities that telcos can level in the metaverse domain, such as:

  • Cloud computing services – Edge computing is one of the foundational stones in the metaverse, and telcos are in a prime position to provide edge computing services so as to unlock more efficient data transfer, lower the load of network congestion and also add another revenue stream in the process.
  • Human interface hardware – Telcos can drive the adoption of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) applications used for optimal interaction in the metaverse. These could be through the bundling of VR devices and connectivity services and go further in adopting an end-to-end (E2) device lifecycle management approach.
  • Advanced analytics or AI – Now more than ever, telcos have access to various data points. More so, in the metaverse, they can use these Big Data insights to improve decision-making. The data could also help them in using customer-and operations-related insights to use advanced analytics and AI to bolster revenues.
  • Connectivity provider – The generational shift from 5G to 6G as we approach 2030 will further the adoption of the metaverse in daily life. Telcos can play a part in addressing network capacity and efficiency-related issues as metaverse requires robust fibre connectivity, which delivers high-bandwidth speeds.
  • Metaverse platforms – As the metaverse platforms will evolve from a series of various virtual worlds created individually by companies, there will come a time when a super virtual world will be formed. By investing in emerging metaverse platforms, telcos will have the upper hand in building the in-depth technical expertise required to create the metaverse of the future.
  • Cybersecurity, privacy and trust – Individuals and enterprises remain concerned about their digital footprint and data integrity. As data custodians, telcos are seen as trusted partners by customers in keeping their private data safe. And so, telcos could consider leveraging their current customer relationships and position themselves as ‘identity management experts.

Telcos will also be required to partner with technology giants, internet tech companies, specialist cloud providers, device manufacturers, technology platform providers, and online game developers to create a partner ecosystem for developing a solid metaverse ecosystem. In that way, telcos can become the orchestrators of the metaverse ecosystems by identifying collaborative opportunities with involved parties.

Based on the limitless possibilities available in metaverse adoption and in line with our commitment to digitally empowering societies, we are taking a significant step forward into the metaverse this GITEX Global by announcing the launch of e& universe, hosted virtually in Arcadia Planitia on Mars.

Alongside, we have had two other major showcases: the Metaverse Service and Etisalat by e&’s business centre. The Metaverse Service is a metaverse platform designed to maximise user experience through multiple virtual spaces and avatars. This was a result of the collaboration with SK Telecom, the largest mobile operator in Korea, to explore media and entertainment. Through our third metaverse showcase, Etisalat by e&’s business centre showcase is in collaboration with Huawei, where e& is demonstrating the future of retail using a 3D retail experience in an innovative way.