SUBSEA CABLE SPECIAL 2014: Moving traffic around the Middle East

07 March 2014 | Guy Matthews


RIPE NCC is one of the five regional internet registries in the world, and its job is to support the smooth flow of web traffic globally.

Axel Pawlik, managing director RIPE NCC, believes that the Middle East presents some unique internet challenges.

“Over one-third of the Arab population lives outside major cities, which means careful thought needs to be given to internet infrastructure deployment,” he says.

He adds that in the interests of enhancing local internet infrastructure, two new Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) were opened recently in the UAE and in the Palestinian territories. He believes that these IXPs are critical for the growth of the internet in the Middle East, helping to stimulate traffic and fuel greater demand for capacity on the region’s land-based and submarine backbones.

Internet infrastructure to date, he says, has tended to put people off from using the internet regularly, which in turn impacts any organisations trying to build a business in the internet industry.

“The new IXPs in the Middle East demonstrate how the region is starting to find terrestrial solutions to improve connectivity,” he says. “The IXPs will also help to reduce costs for local ISPs, meaning the internet is a more financially viable endeavour for them to pursue. More ISPs will mean there is increased competition, and therefore lower costs within the industry in terms of rolling out infrastructure. In turn, there will be more choice for citizens and businesses across the Middle East.”

Effectively addressing issues like infrastructure and processes will take time, he thinks.

“The region is still building examples of best practice and fostering new intra-region relationships – these must be based around the existing structures and institutions first, before being developed further,” he adds. “But the future of the internet in the Middle East is looking very bright.”