Cost-effective pricing may be the answer

As corporate networks continue with their shift to broadband speeds, integrated applications and internet protocol (IP) services, CIOs are faced with immense pressure to provide connectivity to all their geographically dispersed locations.

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By  Angela Sutherland Published  February 19, 2006

|~||~||~|As corporate networks continue with their shift to broadband speeds, integrated applications and internet protocol (IP) services, CIOs are faced with immense pressure to provide connectivity to all their geographically dispersed locations. In order to meet this challenge, they are turning to options such as satellite connectivity. “The demand for satellite connectivity in the Middle East is high because a great deal of the region does not have [proper] fixed infrastructures at this present time. While the obvious example is Iraq, this is also true of many other countries in the region,” says Omar Naji, CEO of NET. “With satellite services enterprises are not dependent on the traditional infrastructures, which makes satellite based networks attractive for mobile sites, whether these be vehicle mounted or temporary sites. The only requirement is an electricity supply, but the power requirements are generally small and thus rarely an issue,” he adds. NET has also carried out a number of implementations closer to home, including one at Dubai Festival City where it provided the construction site with satellite connectivity, enabling the contractor to link to its head office despite not having an IT infrastructure. Approximately 80% of the Middle East’s population lives in rural areas. For many, satellite presents the best means for carrying international traffic. As Inmarsat puts it, historically, satellites have been associated with situations where there is little or no infrastructure available. Late 2005, the global satellite communications provider launched its Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN), bringing the service to the Middle East. “It was a pragmatic decision. There is more business per square kilometre in the Middle East than anywhere else in the world. So for our existing business, we can say there’s a good opportunity in the region,” says Inmarsat CEO Andrew Sukawaty. Inmarsat is pretty accurate in its observation of the Middle East market. Satellite connectivity offers a reliable means of communication that is available in areas where traditional terrestrial infrastructure is non-existent or simply of poor quality. Satellite by nature covers larger footprints, and enterprises are quickly starting to realise this. Organisations like Emirates and Abu Dhabi for Onshore Oil Operation (ADCO) are investing heavily on satellite communications. The demand for satellite services may have been slow in the Middle East, however, that is changing rapidly, which is a move in the right direction. Another thing that will work in favour of not only the end users, but also in the interest of satellite providers, is cost effective pricing. Satellite does not come cheap and this is one factor that is inhibiting its uptake in the Middle East. Satellite is considered to have advantages that fibre does not, and satellite operators will have a much better chance of attracting enterprise customers if the price is right. ||**||

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