Network Middle East electronic edition 18th April, 2005

Many areas of the Middle East are seeing dramatic economic development and this is creating an enormous thirst for network infrastructure. However, there is a danger that this growth could out-pace the networking industry’s ability to provide effective minimum standards for implementations.

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By  Simon Duddy Published  April 17, 2005

Too much, too soon|~||~||~|Many areas of the Middle East are seeing dramatic economic development and this is creating an enormous thirst for network infrastructure. However, there is a danger that this growth could out-pace the networking industry’s ability to provide effective minimum standards for implementations. It is easy to get carried away by the excitement generated by the economic boom in many parts of the Middle East. The property sector, with ambitious projects such as the Qatar Pearl and Dubai’s The World, is one highly visible example of this prosperity, confidence and ambition. And of course, with each new project that reaches for the sky, there is a need to lay solid infrastructure foundations. Indeed, much of the work done in the region is first class, with vendors bringing excellent solutions to market and systems integrators building powerful brands for reliable installations. However, in the absence of robust standards and motivated, powerful monitoring bodies, the market remains vulnerable to fly-by-night operators who will cut corners to win tenders. This is not only to the long-term detriment of the customer, it is also a hole below the waterline to the region’s good ship prestige. No one wants to see cabling that does not meet customer requirements ripped out mere months after it has been installed. But as long as standards, education and the establishment of effective regulatory bodies and licenses remain on the backburner, the Middle East is taking a chance with its future. Part of the problem is that in the Middle East, government bodies often don’t grant licences for telecom installers. If telecom installers had to apply for a licence to compete in tenders and that licence was only granted when adherence to a minimum standard of performance was achieved, it would make the chances of disaster that much slimmer. It is in everyone’s interests to work towards the effective establishment of these rules and bodies to enforce them. For customers, these regulations may add months to the time it takes to open projects, but all will see reliable performance as a welcome pay-off. Systems integrators will welcome such moves, as it will give the strong and thorough companies the break they need to edge out the cowboys. Most of all, the region’s governments should also push hard for such a development, as they stand to lose most if their ambitious plans fall short through shoddy execution. Network professionals and building consultants can play a huge role in ensuring sound implementations by insisting on accreditation for those that carry out implementations. It also falls on educational bodies such as BICSI and standards bodies such as the IEEE to hammer home the importance of adherence to standards and sound building practices in the region. However, it may take a lot more than the urging of individuals and bodies to change the culture of many installers in the region, who base bids solely on price and cut whatever corners necessary to maximise profit. Companies and governments are investing hundreds of millions of dollars into the infrastructure that will provide the foundation for the Middle East’s economy of tomorrow. For that money to be well spent, it is essential that this work is carried out thoroughly and well. The time to insist on standards is now.||**||

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