Interview with Thomas Hundt, CEO of Smart Axiata

Telecoms World Asia recently spoke with Thomas Hundt, who is leading Cambodia’s 5G rollout at the nation’s largest telecommunications operator Smart Axiata, part of Malaysia’s Axiata Group. Thomas will be taking part in the keynote plenary at Telecoms World Asia as he sits down with telecoms industry leader Ajay Sunder, Deputy Director of the Strategy Carrier Division at SC-NEX, and Katrina-Luna Abelarde, CEO of PLDT Global to discuss Asia’s 5G future on the morning of 22nd July 2020 in Bangkok.

1. Can you share a brief introduction of what you do and what are some areas of focus for your company?

I am the CEO of Smart Axiata. I am instrumental in leading Smart since inception, from being a greenfield number eight mobile operator to now, the undisputed number one mobile operator in Cambodia, with a few mergers along the way. At Smart, we strive to deliver our promise of enriching millions of lives by being at the forefront of mobile technology advancement in Cambodia while rapidly transforming ourselves into a digital lifestyle brand and playing an active role in the country’s socio-economic growth.

2. In one sentence, tell us how you would describe the state of the telecommunications industry today?

Volatile, ever changing but super exciting, and increasingly a commodity instead of a good-to-have.

3. How do you see the industry evolving over the next 5 years?

It may be a little too optimistic to predict as far as 5 years; technology cycles are much shorter nowadays and innovation has disrupted many hypotheses. I expect nevertheless that 5G will lead the way on how the industry shapes itself with edge computing, AI, robotics and IoT pretty much becoming more mature. One thing for sure, mobile telecommunication services will be expected to be more reliable, secure and rich in services – and probably at a cheaper price.

4. What are some of the common challenges that Operators and Communications Service Providers face today and how do you help them overcome these obstacles?

Communication Service Providers are required to transform as well as innovate to remain relevant. In the coming years, adoption will be highly dependent on how the industry manages customer expectations with regards to price, reliability, consistency, security, trust and relevance. The telecom industry is probably one of the few sectors in the world which faces increased regulatory scrutiny as well as pressures to provide more and more while retail prices continue to drop exponentially. Hence, cost optimization and operational excellence are key. Another common challenge which we all need to take note of is the imbalance in talent and skills compared to the rise in emerging technology.

5. What technology are you looking forward to hearing about at Telecoms World Asia 2020?

The event is scheduled right after the annual Mobile World Congress in Barcelona so I would expect some overlaps in discussions but I am looking forward to have open, frank and courageous debates on how the industry could together realize the future of Asia’s promising telecom sector!


About Telecoms World Asia

Telecoms World Asia has been an annual platform for leading international carriers, operators, authorities and suppliers to meet, learn and create fruitful partnerships for the betterment of the telecoms ecosystem in Asia.  This year, expect more than 1200 attendees, 120+ speakers, 70+ exhibitors and a most diverse agenda yet, with 5 tracks of content covering 5GNetwork VirtualisationTelco 4.0Wholesale and Intelligent Connectivity.

Visit the event website or click here to book your tickets.

To sponsor or exhibit, contact Shruthi at Shruthi.Hegde@terrapinn.com or +65 6322 2712.

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