The voice from space

VSAT vendor and implementation specialist Advanced Internet Centre (AIC) has been awarded a contract to set up the initial connectivity that will form the basis of Iraqi’s e-government.

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By  Simon Duddy Published  March 22, 2005

|~|Ali-Hadi_m.jpg|~|“Service availability is more important than individual applications. Anyone can give you a VSAT and you will be able to connect to the internet but it is being able to have a reliable service that counts. We guarantee quality.” - Ali Hadi, president of Advanced Internet Centre.|~|VSAT vendor and implementation specialist Advanced Internet Centre (AIC) has been awarded a contract to set up the initial connectivity that will form the basis of Iraqi’s e-government scheme. Iraq’s Science and Technology Minister Rashad Omar says the administration has begun work on an intranet system linking its government ministries, which will play a key role in the country’s reconstruction. AIC’s role is provide VSAT communication between Baghdad and the wider world as well as wireless links between government offices. “We will start the implementation and training of staff this month and we expect to complete the job within two months,” says Ali Hadi, president of Advanced Internet Centre (AIC). “We are providing the satellite signal as well as LAN and wireless solutions, with the plan to connect 20 government offices to the Ministry of Science and Technology using SpeedLAN WAN technology,” he adds. AIC is looking to its own QSAT solution for the satellite connectivity, Cisco kit for the LAN and has opted for Nokia firewalls and VPN on the security side. AIC is also active in the Qatar Foundation, which is playing a part in extending internet connectivity to 37 universities across Iraq. “The Qatar Foundation has donated internet connectivity to universities in Iraq. They chose QTel and AIC to provide this service. As it’s an educational, not-for-profit project, we have given all of our services and equipment at cost prices,” says Malika Krafsig, managing director, AIC Europe. AIC was one of the first companies into Iraq after the overthrow of the Hussein regime. It first established an office in July 2003 at Baghdad airport using a European connection. It was frustration with this service, which quickly became oversubscribed and unreliable, that prompted Hadi to build a hub in the Middle East to serve the regional market. This has boosted AIC’s ability to serve its target market in the Middle East. “We utilise Qtel’s Teleport facility as Qtel has an excellent fibre network, with multiple connections to the US and other parts of the world, thus giving redundancy,” says Hadi. “We target enterprises and governments and although our service is expensive, we guarantee quality of service, have on-site technical support, sign service level agreements (SLAs) and always use our own technicians to install equipment,” he adds. Hadi has observed that quality in the VSAT market has tumbled in the last few years. VSAT was once a byword for high availability but Hadi points out the influx of traders and middlemen has led to a deterioration of quality. “Its like driving a car, every manufacturer says you have to run a maintenance on your car after every few thousand miles, and if it’s your car you will do this,” says Hadi. “But when it is a rental car, no one considers maintenance and this is the problem with VSAT — people sell the service but they don’t own the platform,” he explains. Hadi sees voice and to a lesser extent e-mail, as the most important applications that are used across VSAT, despite the potential for companies to carry video conferencing and more content rich traffic. “The killer applications are e-mail and VoIP from a business perspective. Video-conferencing is possible but still too expensive for most people. In fact, seven out of ten installations are for voice services,” says Hadi. “Service availability is more important than individual applications. Anyone can give you a VSAT and you will be able to connect to the internet but it is being able to have a reliable service that counts. We guarantee quality,” he adds.||**||

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