Telecom operators in the Middle East are busy readying their networks for 'Triple Play' to provide Voice, Data and Video, without compromising on quality in order to meet new customer demands and competition. Most of the renowned ones have already succeeded in having a full fledged network. But on other hand new licensed operators are doing their best to reach out to customers with bundled packages to compete with existing service providers, while existing telecom operators are hastily trying to reach out to the maximum number of subscribers within the shortest possible time. Most of the fixed telecom operators are talking about Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON) or Gigabit Ethernet Passive Optical Network (GEPON) technologies to cater to the increasing demand for broadband. But in the region GPON is the technology widely accepted and followed.
Manzoor Ali, Managing Director KSA at Cabling Solutions Provider Reichle & De-Massari MEA says that for these systems the network performance not only depends on active equipments, but it is equally important to have quality passive components from central office to the customer end. Here come the challenges, as Passive Optical Network technology doesn’t have the same amount of history as traditional copper network. Now technologies demand for fiber on the access network side also, which could be FTTB (Fiber to the Building) or FTTH (Fiber to the Home). The design may look simple, easy components comparing to ADSL or VDSL network as there is no active element in between the connectivity from central office. The challenge here is to have high quality passive components and precision in the specification in order to have a reliable telecom network. This network is going to handle voice, video and data, through with one can operate IPTV, video on demand etc. Upstream and downstream both are important and hence the physical layer should be of a very good quality.
The driving force behind the adoption of FTTH technologies in the region is the growing demand for high speed connection in both upstream and downstream. Traditional copper cabling systems, such as ADSL or VDSL where the transport layer was copper backbone and access, had its challenges of providing high speed reliable network to a demanding customer. When it comes to a new telecom operator, or an existing telecom operator who would like to invest for the future, it is cost-effective for them to invest in Fiber backbone and access network. This opens up the way to a number of new applications and new services such as online backup, call centers, e-health etc. With the widespread proliferation of such networks, the number of possibilities is sure to grow. HD and 3D video services, market competition for higher bandwidth offering, lower maintenance and operation costs and new generation mobile network backhaul are among the main enablers in driving this technology forward.
A look at the telecom sector in the Middle East region reveals that the main factor for the rapid growth of the industry is the entry of new telecom operators into the market as a result of privatization policy. The situation of this region is totally different from those in the European markets. Telecom Privatization policy is shaking up the industry and putting pressure on incumbent telecom operators who were previously enjoying a monopoly. Very few of them were meeting the growing demands of customers. The existing operators continue to utilize and build upon their existing copper based networks while the new licensed operators are keen on rapid deployment to speed up their time to market. In both scenarios, success depends on the expertise of the vendors who can deliver the systems and solutions that meet each operator's requirements. So most passive networks need to be tailor-made with the delivery of systems occurring within strictly defined time frames. Traditionally the problem with tailor-made solutions has been the bottle neck in deployment due to the time taken for custom development, fabrication and further deployment and field testing.
The focus therefore of telecom passive network vendors catering to the telecom domain should be on the development of products which can be highly customized while at the same time can be quickly delivered for field deployment. So, flexibility and modularity of the product play a main role for a speedy deployment. Each public network presents its own unique set of challenges, which is why fulfilling individual requirements, quick adaptations and local support are fundamental to such undertakings. Environmental factors, competitive situations and legal regulations too vary from site to site. Network operators follow different strategies when it comes to topology and architecture. Sometimes point-to-point solutions might be the right answer, whereas at other times point-to-multi-point solutions or even a combination of both. This will be driven by the application of the network.
For operators migrating from legacy copper solutions to fiber based cabling, existing infrastructure must be integrated into feeder, drop and access areas, or hybrid cabling must be used in a transitional phase before FTTx has finally become firmly established. This requires the flexibility of combining copper and fiber optic cable on existing platforms.
Finally, building entry point and residential connections often require customer-specific modifications and aesthetic solutions. Meeting such demands increases customer acceptance and translates to greater connection volumes. Customers could be home, businesses, enterprises, IT developers, corporate or government organizations. The behavior and demand for each one of them varies depending on their priorities. But one common factor for all of them is that they will always look for a reliable network with good quality of service. As a result, it is important that when telecom operators invest for the long term, they need to make sure that the network is capable of handling customer's requirements for more than 15 years. As customer demands drive operators to upgrade their networks, those who deliver the best quality of service even during upgrades and enhancements are the ones who will see long term success.
About Reichle & De-Massari (R&M)
Reichle & De-Massari (R&M) develops and produces passive cabling solutions for communication networks and has established itself as a leading producer of high quality copper and fiber-optic solutions. The company has set up its own sales organizations in 30 countries and these are streamlined into seven sales regions. Around two thirds of R&M’s sales revenue is generated abroad. In 2011 sales reached CHF 189.4. More than 5% of sales revenue is invested in research and development every year. R&M (rdm.com) is ranked one of the 500 leading companies in Switzerland and currently employs approx. 600 people. The company is wholly owned by the Reichle family and is managed as an independent family business.
Sandrine Prat, Marketing & Communication Manager
Regional Office- Middle East & Africa
Reichle & De- Massari MEA
T: + 971 4 236 87 61 - E: sandrine.prat[.]rdm.com.