The telecom industry, governments and regulators need to “move decisively” to fibre in order to support future economic growth, according to a report from management consultancy firm, Arthur D. Little (ADL).
There are clear economic benefits to improving broadband infrastructure; jobs are created and there is a permanent boost to GDP. Ultra-fast broadband also drives critical diversification of economies, as small and medium sized businesses are among the first to benefit from new services, according to ADL.
Furthermore, it is no longer possible to modernise and upgrade the copper-based network, and whole fibre or mainly fibre networks are now needed not only for the fastest fixed access services, but also to underpin the micro layer of the latest mobile backhaul networks, the report states.
One major success story has been Qatar’s roll-out of a nationwide fibre network, which positions the country as a “Leading Fibre Nation”. In a global study based on figures from the FTTH Council, data collected from operators and ADL estimates, Qatar enjoyed one of the fastest nationwide fibre roll-outs in the world since the start of deployment in 2011, as judged by the average percentage of homes passed by Fibre (33.3% of the total) and the number of homes connected (6.3%) per year. The pace of the roll out exceeds that of several highly-developed nations.
Qatar’s nationwide roll-out of fibre, driven by private investment and in partnership with some of the country’s leading businesses, is in-line with its ambitious Qatar National Vision 2030, which positions the development of a knowledge-based economy built upon a strong infrastructure foundation as a major strategic priority.
These benefits do not come cheap, as the investment needed is vast. On the back of huge investments made by incumbent operators, some GCC countries are already ranked as global leaders in passing homes/connecting homes to their FTTH networks.
Although this is bringing increasing visibility to the region in global discussions on high-speed broadband infrastructure deployment, the Middle East still has significant challenges to overcome that require intensive government participation. More regional governments are starting to appreciate the role of fibre infrastructure in the national socio-economic development.
“Governments should ensure the right regulation and control so that funding can maximize the economic impact,” said Dr. Karim Taga, managing partner and global practice leader, ADL TIME practice.
“After 30 years or more of breaking national monopolies, it now seems that too much infrastructure competition is holding back fibre deployment, which in turn is hurting consumers and the wider economy.”
Based on a global market survey, ADL has identified five National Fibre models that governments around the globe have followed to reap the benefits from fibre. ADL has concluded that the most promising fibre strategy models involve a hybrid approach, a combination of free market competition, graded government coordination and geographically-targeted public investment open to competitive bid.
“Choosing a National Fibre strategy is about identifying the best model for specific national market conditions and applying that model well,” Taga added.
The full report is called “National Fibre Strategies: National economic imperative or just another private industry task?”