Regional sector can still surprise

The former UK Prime Minister Harold Wilson once predicted that the "white heat of a technological revolution" would propel society into a new era.

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By  Roger Field Published  September 23, 2007

The former UK Prime Minister Harold Wilson once predicted that the "white heat of a technological revolution" would propel society into a new era. If the array of cutting-edge technology that was showcased at last month's GULFCOMMS exhibition serves as any indication, it would appear we are about to enter that era.

While those closely involved with the comms sector have seen the latest developments in the industry evolve, the speed of change and the applications that are being found for this technology still has the ability to surprise.

For example, just a few years ago, few people could have guessed how readily available satellite phones would become, allowing mobile coverage in remote areas. This technology is not only vital for organisations such as the UN and the military - even farmers in remote areas can benefit by gaining access to information such as the latest crop prices and weather forecasts.

Numerous network providers at GULFCOMMS are also leading the way for the industry, allowing diverse sectors to benefit from the latest ICT. High speed connections, whether cable or wireless, are allowing companies to benefit from converging technologies.

These rapid advances in technology are matched by changes in the business arena, as comms operators seek to gain ground in a market that is increasingly de-regulated and open to competition. But while the Middle East - and the wider MENA region - offers operators major opportunities, companies do need to move quickly and aggressively to succeed in the region.

This is particularly the case in Gulf countries. Thomas W. Wilson, CEO and managing director of SAMENA Telecommunications Council says that the UAE comms industry is likely to reach maturity within three to five years. This is far quicker time frame than that experienced by already mature markets such as Europe and the USA.

There are numerous reasons for this, including increasing deregulation and the fact that operators in the region can learn from their counterparts in markets such as the USA. And of course, another major benefit for operators in the region is the ready availability of the latest products and services, many of which are on display at GULFCOMMS.

But while the industry may be able to get an insight into its future direction from markets that have already matured, there is no doubt that the Middle East's comms sector, and the wider MENA region, still has the capacity to surprise.

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