Internet will eventually be free, says du chief Osman Sultan

AB Forum: Osman Sultan says telecom companies want to reduce the price of connectivity but are investing billions
By Lubna Hamdan
Mon 13 Nov 2017 11:49 AM

Du chief executive Osman Sultan has predicted that the cost of the internet will go down, eventually becoming cost-free.

Speaking at the 2017 Arabian Business Forum in Dubai, Sultan said the process is a gliding path that already exists for the user, who pays less per gigabyte today compared to two years ago.

“It cannot happen overnight. Yes, it will go that way, but it will be a gliding path. In telecom, we used to invoice two things: time and distance. It was very simple. You speak from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, you pay a price. You speak from Dubai to New York, you pay a different pice. You speak for one minute, you pay a price. You speak for 10 minutes, you pay a different price. That was the equation: time and distance.

"We lived into this. The internet players came and changed that totally because they were working on different monetisation models such as advertising etc,” he said.

Sultan said he proposed that all telecom companies in the region join forces to create a model that would help them monetise their services, comparing banks’ partnerships in creating the Visa model.

“It didn’t work because yes, you have e-commerce etc, but you also have something else called ego. That is sometimes an obstacle for a lot of good things to happen,” he said.

While the chief executive of the billion dollar firm said telecom companies want to reduce the price of connectivity, he said they are spending billions that internet players such as Facebook are benefiting from, but not investing in.

“I have to pay billions every year so that the Apples and Facebooks [of this world] can have better services that they monetise and where you want to pay me less and less. Just to take an example, every day, how many videos do we receive? Years back, it was something unique when you get a video. Now, almost every WhatsApp message is a video. That would require that I continue injecting billion after billion… So that paradox is not yet sorted out for the entire telecom industry. We invest and others are monetising,” he said.

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