Vodafone Network Engineer Mostafa Essa's brainchild, iNetwork, is the only artificial intelligence machine of its kind in the world. Its unique functionalities have made it the object of some major global players' desires.
The time seems ripe for a massive economic boom in Egypt’s telecommunications sector. With technological institutes springing up, the country’s operators gearing up to launch nationwide 4G services, as well as an estimated 111 percent mobile penetration rate, it wouldn’t be wise to bet against the industry.
One operator, however, possesses a secret weapon in its arsenal that has the potential of driving the country’s telecommunications industry forward. Vodafone Egypt’s very own Mostafa Essa is taking the sector to the stratosphere with iNetwork. Four years in the making, this month marks Essa’s invention’s second birthday.
Imagine a machine capable of not only troubleshooting and fixing network problems, but also of retaining information and statistics in the process such that it self-learns new behaviors – other than the ones programmed into it – to constantly broaden its knowledge repositories, allowing it to perform more complex tasks in the future. “[It's a] unique Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) and self-learning machine with extraordinary capabilities, working 24/7 efficiently to identify mobile network problems, statistics, and customer behaviour,” Essa says of his brainchild. “It then analyses the information and takes immediate actions to solve these problems or enhance mobile network performance.”
Sounds an awful lot like everybody’s dream customer service rep, doesn’t it? No forced courtesy, no chitchat – just solutions. However, iNetwork doesn’t take customer calls; instead it saves you hours in hold time by solving your network coverage problems before they occur. “When there is a power outage, the machine detects it and extends the coverage of nearby cell towers to cover the affected area,” Essa says. The two years iNetwork has been operational are equivalent to two years’ worth of professional experience by an engineer. More interestingly, though, is the fact that during that time, the machine has spared engineers the long and tedious hours spent monitoring cell sites, reporting the problems that arise, and getting authorisation before manually fixing them.
iNetwork is now the object of everyone’s desire, with Vodafone Global honouring Essa and asking to employ his patented algorithm across its operations worldwide, from England to India. “It is energy efficient and power-saving; many foreign operators have already shown interest in using it in Europe and Asia,” he asserts. “It also saves a lot of money that used to be spent on similar products, in addition to its unique functionality.”
iNetwork is a step towards a new era of mobile networks; it improves network performance and responds to problems immediately. This functionality takes Vodafone Egypt’s customer experience to new heights.
Yet, Essa maintains that the technology is available to everyone. “Right now only Vodafone Group operators can use it due to patented intellectual property, however, it can be commercialised soon,” the young engineer says.
For now, however, the A.I. machine puts Vodafone Egypt way ahead of the competition, with many hailing the operator as ‘the most robust network in Egypt’. “iNetwork is a step towards a new era of mobile networks; it improves network performance and responds to problems immediately,” Essa elaborates. “This functionality takes Vodafone Egypt’s customer experience to new heights.”Essa doesn’t view his great achievement as an isolated and separate incident vis-à-vis Egypt’s technological landscape. “We have major opportunities for technological progress in Egypt, we also have a lot of high-calibre engineering talents,” he states before adding: “However, we need to shine a light on those talented professionals and involve them in the solutions to the country’s problems and highlight their efforts. This will bridge the gap.”
It is those talents that Essa believes can bring about real change and drive the telecommunications industry forward and, in turn, the economy. “Our engineers need more attention, care, and development. We need to set up new tools to stimulate their creativity, rather than letting them drown in the routine of red tape jobs,” he warns.
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Photos by @MO4Network's #MO4Productions
Photographer: Ahmed Najeeb