Etisalat's SmartHub adds partners in Africa and Asia
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Etisalat's SmartHub adds partners in Africa and Asia

Etisalat has today announced agreements with Kenya’s Safaricom and India’s Bharti Airtel for connectivity into its SmartHub facility.

Safaricom’s deal will see the operator use the East African Marine System (TEAMS) to connect to Etisalat’s SmartHub in Fujairah, UAE, in a bid to expand its global multi-services network.

“Today’s announcement reiterates the importance of the UAE and Etisalat as the hub for East Africa internet connectivity,” said Ali Amiri, EVP of carrier and wholesale at Etisalat.

“We [Etisalat and Safaricom] both believe that the development goals of Africa must be supported by greater internet connectivity and joining our SmartHub community is a major step forward,” he added.

TEAMS is a 5,000km fibre-optic undersea cable connecting Mombasa, Kenya, to Fujairah, and Bob Collymore, CEO at Safaricom, stated that the company hopes the partnership with Etisalat will enable the delivery of high-quality communications services.

“Kenya is increasingly becoming the hub for regional telecoms services for East Africa, and linking our two hubs is a strategic move that will benefit consumers and corporate customer alike,” he said.

Airtel, meanwhile, will set up a multi-service, regional network infrastructure node in Etisalat’s SmartHub facility, designed to allow Airtel to offer enhanced data and wholesale services to customers in the Middle East. The node will include Airtel’s MPLS services, supported by its global network, and is also expected to provide Etisalat with a platform to reach out to global business hubs such as Africa and India. Airtel and Etisalat share a longstanding relationship and Amiri said that the partnership will enable more direct routing of traffic between the MiddleEast and Africa, Asia and Europe.

“With a commitment to provide best in class services to all its customers and a strong focus on emerging markets, Bharti Airtel has made significant investments in creating a global network infrastructure,” said Ajay Chitkara, CEO of global business at Bharti Airtel.

“The collaboration with Etisalat will further help us to cater to the growing bandwidth demands of our enterprise and carrier customers in the region.”

Last week, Etisalat signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Swedish vendor Ericsson. The agreement will see Etisalat launch trials of Ericsson technologies in a bid to develop the foundation for next-generation infrastructure for m-government and smart city initiatives.

Etisalat will trial technologies including LTE Broadcast, the Ericsson Radio Dot System and Ericsson’s heterogeneous network solutions.

“Over the years, Etisalat Group has demonstrated its ability to build and sustain the most advanced and innovative networks,” said Hatem Bamatraf, CTO at Etisalat Group. “Conducting such innovative trials is only the first step – this will pave the way for further collaborations and the eventual delivery of more advanced, reliable and faster broadband access to users across the region.”

The Capacity Middle East 2014 conference opened today in Dubai and continues until March 5.

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