Collapsing networks

Growing demand for fixed and wireless communications and improvements in technology means that many operators in the region are scrutinising their networks and looking for ways to improve the quality and efficiency of their service.

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By  Administrator Published  November 14, 2008

Growing demand for fixed and wireless communications and improvements in technology means that many operators in the region are scrutinising their networks and looking for ways to improve the quality and efficiency of their service.

Speaking at the recent Broadband World Forum in Brussels, Julian Zadarnowski and Marc Curtis, two of Fujitsu Telecommunications Europe's business unit directors, told CommsMEA about the vendor's plans to expand operations in the Middle East and Africa, and what they think could be improved in the region's telecom networks.

What presence does Fujitsu Telecommunications Europe have in the Middle East and Africa at the moment?

Some operators have had their fingers burnt. They found they had deployed technology that isn’t fit for purpose. - Julian Zadarnowski.

Zadarnowski: Fujitsu, as a group has a presence in Dubai that covers a number of entities across the group, not just telecommunications, and we're also present in Egypt. And we're looking at opening another office in the region, but I can't say where. It will become apparent as and when we start moving with our potential new customer there.

Curtis: The original strategy was domestic: Japan, China South East Asia, then North America and then 15 years ago into Europe. With Richard Christou (senior vice president and head of EMEA operations) coming on board 18-months ago, the focus now has widened to include the Middle East as well as Europe. That's been the trigger for us starting to look at the region in a bit more earnest.

Zadarnowski: We've started to put more emphasis on the region, and we're finding that operators are coming to us, because they're looking for something a bit different. They've all been through the first and second and third phases of technology deployment where they've bought boxes, they bought all the traditional stuff you would buy if you're an operator and they put it in a network.

It's been ok, it's worked well and it's got them to where they want to go, but they are now realising that for a competitive edge and a bit of differentiation they're starting to look for more turnkey providers.

We've got a very proven track record in terms of developing an end-to-end experience for operators, not just worrying about what happens in the core network or in the access network, but taking it right the way into somebody's home and proving that the experience that the consumer gets or the business gets is a good one. We try and take what we do beyond the network and make sure that it works in the home.

What do you think of the current state of relations between vendors and operators in the Middle East region?

Zadarnowski: There has been a bit of a gold rush in the Middle East over the last ten years, people have piled in; wireless vendors, fixed vendors - everybody has been there. And I think, without getting into too much depth, some operators have had their fingers burnt.

They found that they deployed technology that  isn't fit for purpose, or vendors have come in and they've used sub-contractors in countries where it hasn't worked very well, so the build quality has been poor - not of the equipment, but of the cabling, and the implementation has been poorly executed. Also, vendors the world over maybe see it as a soft touch, seeing it as an easy opportunity to make money.

Curtis: Next generation networks (NGNs) have changed things a lot over the last few years, and that has provided a point of discontinuity because before, a lot of operators built networks that were focused on offering one type of service, and over the last few years technology has matured to the level where people can now build one network that will realistically offer a whole range of services in a much more economic way, and I think that's driving a little bit of change in the mindset of the operators.

You can see it with BT's 21st Century Network; they were looking at their networks operationally and realising that it was costing them too much money and there was now technology available that allowed them to collapse all of those multiple services on different networks on to a single common infrastructure, and that would save them both in terms of Capex, as they grow that network, and ongoing Opex because they are maintaining fewer boxes and less equipment, but still offering a whole range of services.

What we're seeing in the Middle East is that a lot of operators are saying they now want to build an orthodox next generation network fundamentally built on fibre, they want to build a fibre network to the home, but they want to keep the underlying cost of the infrastructure as low as possible by using the latest NGN technology, such as our Flashwave product, which enables them to do that. It supports multiple levels of a network within a single platform, whereas traditionally you would have needed two or three boxes to support that level of functionality.

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