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Middle East Investing in Key Technologies to Support Rapid Growth

Christain Uremovic

February 23, 2023
By Christian Uremovic
Director, Solution Marketing

The Middle East region is known for its vast oil reserves, rich history, and unique cultures. Over the years, the region has made significant strides in the field of telecommunications, which has helped to drive economic growth and development.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, for example, is home to one of the largest and fastest-growing telecommunications markets in the Middle East, with a high level of mobile phone penetration,  widespread internet usage, and a planned smart city, NEOM, which also highlights the government’s focus on developing a digital economy. Moreover, the government has launched several initiatives aimed at promoting the use of technology in various sectors, including education, healthcare, and finance. Saudi Arabia is also one of the fastest-growing populations – from 1960 to 2021, its population increased from 4.09 million to 35.95 million people, representing growth of 779.7% in 61 years. In the same period, the total population of all countries worldwide increased by “just” 160.2%.

A major milestone in Saudi Arabia was the launch of 5G wireless technology in 2019. The country became one of the first in the world to offer commercial 5G services, and this has led to a surge in demand for high-speed internet services. With a download rate of 322.42 Mb/s, compared to an average of 142.05 Mb/s worldwide, it has one of the fastest 5G networks according to OOKLA. The introduction of 5G technology has opened up new possibilities for businesses and individuals, enabling ubiquitous high-speed access to information and content, which has helped to boost the economy. The country’s telecommunications industry therefore has been growing at an unprecedented rate, thanks also to its investment in cutting-edge technology and infrastructure.

As an example, the Middle East region was the location of one of the first deployments of the industry-leading 800G coherent optical technology with stc’s selection of Infinera’s GX compact modular solution and ICE6 optical engine.

Infinera Xchange reception area and meeting area

Oman is another country in the region that has made significant investments in building world-class telecommunications infrastructure, including the development of fiber optic networks and the introduction of 5G technology. These investments have significantly improved the speed and quality of internet services in the country, enabling businesses to operate more efficiently and individuals to stay connected to the world. While also being beautiful, Oman is a key landing spot for many subsea cables and provides rich submarine terminal hubs and landing stations. In fact, one of the largest subsea cables in the world, the AAE-1 cable, which spans 25,000 km of submarine and terrestrial networks connecting 19 countries, is led by a consortium of 19 leading operators, including Omantel. AAE-1 recently awarded Infinera the largest subsea upgrade project in the world, deploying the 800G ICE6 optical engine and GX platform  in collaboration with our professional services team.

Two Photos from Infinera's recent Xchanges in the Middle East

We recently visited key operators in the region to discuss the latest market and technology trends in telecommunications and optical transport networking. Heavy Reading’s Sterling Perrin also participated remotely, discussing the  latest market trends and providing an outside perspective of optical transport networks and their ongoing evolution. With the region’s demand for high-speed networks, its focus on cutting-edge technology with the best economics, and the migration toward open optical networking, it has an exceptional future in sight.  We were pleased about the interactive discussions and open communications and have been invited for follow-up discussions and deeper dives into our technology and how it can help these operators stay ahead. With innovations like ICE6, pluggable XR optics, and the compact modular GX platform as a multi-haul line system, we have the right tools for operators to scale their networks and simplify their architectures.

What better way to describe the outcome of our event and capture the voice of the customer than a word cloud? Well, that’s just what we did in our final Kahoot! of the day, and you can see the result – Optically. The good news for me is I’ll be back.

Word cloud describing Infinera