06 March 2018
The sector in the Middle East is in the midst of a decade of strong growth. This has been pushed by a surge in investment and e-government initiatives
The fixed broadband market in the Middle East is slowly
beginning to gain traction in the more progressive markets.
Overall however, regional penetration remains low. ADSL has
been the most popular access method in many markets, but we are
now seeing countries such as the United Arab Emirates and
Turkey take significant strides in fibre-optic deployment and
penetration. This is according to a report by BuddeComm, an
independent research firm.
Mobile services have reached saturation in some markets,
Bahrain, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and
the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and it has become clear that
future telecoms growth will revolve around broadband services.
This has led many of the various governments and operators
towards a renewed push to improve both mobile and fixed
Mobile broadband penetration in some countries like Bahrain,
UAE, Qatar and Jordan are reaching quite high levels and these
countries are progressing with data revenue growth, 5G planning
and preparation and network upgrades. However other countries
such as Yemen, Syria, Iran and Iraq still have room for
enormous growth in terms of mobile broadband infrastructure and
services – and will require changes in various country
and industry dynamics for this to occur.
The Middle East continued to position itself as a leader in
the smart city segment in 2017 with Dubai at the forefront of
internet of things and smart developments. Etisalat, for
example, opened its new innovation centre in the city, where it
will showcase innovative solutions and drive digital
The company says that the new facility is the first of its
kind in the region offering insight into how these new
technologies will benefit Etisalat customers and partners.
Speaking about the new centre, Saleh Al Abdooli, Etisalat
Group CEO, said: "In today’s digital age, it is
essential to show how innovative solutions can be applied in
the business environment and become a digital reality.
Etisalat’s corporate strategy is focused on
'Driving the Digital Future to empower the
society’ across our customers and enabling them
with solutions and services on this digital journey."
The UAE’s two operators also announced that
they are working together on a government project to build
smart infrastructure in new developments. Etisalat and du said
that the project, called Taawun, will include an initial 50
projects that will be pilots for all new developments in the
Etisalat is also getting on the 5G bandwagon. It has been
trialling 5G technology, with one test last year hitting speeds
of 71Gbps. It plans to deploy standardised 5G in the UAE by
2020 and launched pre-commercial 5G ultra mobile broadband in
certain parts of Dubai at the end of 2017.
There were also a number of key announcements about cables
in the region, with Batelco selecting Ciena’s
platform for a new 8.8Tbps cable network that will connect with
Gulf countries and the rest of the world.
The new Batelco Gulf Network (BGN) will be 1,400km long and
will link all the countries across the Gulf Cooperation Council
(GCC) in the Arabian Gulf region.
"The BGN is a reliable alternative to more vulnerable
submarine cables, all with scalable capacity and the shortest
inter-Gulf latency," said Adel Al-Daylami,
Batelco’s chief global business officer.
There was also an announcement from the international unit
of Reliance Communications – Global Cloud Xchange
(GCX) – to launch a brand new subsea cable called
Eagle. The cable is due to be ready in 2020 and will be split
into two parts, anchored in Mumbai. The first branch will run
to Hong Kong but the second will connect Mumbai to Sicily via
the Middle East.
GCX said: "The new Eagle express cable system will be the
fastest Mumbai to Hong Kong route, avoiding the outage-prone
Malacca Strait. In addition, Eagle will also be the fastest
submarine route between India and key technology centres across
the Middle East and Europe."