Middle East poised to overtake USA in the race to broadband

The Middle East has a long way to go to catch South Korea, the acknowledged world leader in broadband connections but delegates to the ITP e-government roadshow in Jordan heard it could easily catch and overtake the USA.

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By  David Cass Published  June 4, 2002

One of the major issues to be faced for the implementation of e-government is connectivity and, with much of the Middle East population living in rural areas, that is going to prove a headache for the administrators.

By far the best current form of connectivity is thought to be broadband, which is expensive and only practical in urban centres, according to Ned Jaroudi of Intel Corporation.

Speaking to the ITP e-government roadshow in Amman, Jordan, Jaroudi said the kingdom still has a long way to go to catch the world’s leader in broadband connections, Korea. The Seoul government, he says, has already invested $25 billion to lay 27,000 kilometres of fibre-optic cable over which the nation’s broadband connections operate.

Connection for a Korean householder costs around $25 a month, compared with $70 per month in Jordan. It is not, however, such bad news for the region as even the USA is only just beginning to catch Korea.

Says Jaroudi, “The real opportunity in Arabia is to catch up and overtake the USA because we are new to the technology and do not have the legacy of thousands of kilometres of copper cable, which reduces the speed of broadband considerably. In the US 60% of homes are already cables but this is not likely to grow quickly because of the copper legacy.”

He also believes that Jordan is well placed to succeed in e-government where others will fail because the move to broadband is an integral part of its strategy.

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