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AT&T reinforces position in ME via telco partners

US giant signs agreements with Etisalat and STC

Global telecommunications company AT&T has taken two steps forward in its activities in the Middle East — forging partnership agreements with two of the region’s largest telecom operators and announcing plans to set up operations in Dubai.

The US firm has, together with its local system and network integrator NavLink, signed new partnership agreements with telecom providers Etisalat and Saudi Telecom (STC) which it announced during the Gitex show.

Etisalat is to host the AT&T global network node in the UAE, allowing the companies to offer internet protocol (IP) virtual private network (VPN) services both to local UAE customers that want global connectivity and to multinational customers of AT&T wanting to expand in the region.

Etisalat will offer the network-based IPVPN solution via multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) standards deployed over AT&T’s global network.

“Every day our customers are expanding more and more into emerging regions, the Middle East being particularly one of the more important regions. It’s become a significant place and imperative for AT&T to be in the Middle East and as a result we have launched this partnership with Etisalat through NavLink,” head of AT&T business in EMEA, John Vladimir Slamecka told IT Weekly in an exclusive interview.

“A lot of our important and large customers have said that they need to be in the Middle East,” Slamecka went on to say.

STC, meanwhile, has signed a contract with AT&T to deploy an AT&T global data node in Saudi Arabia. The advanced data node from AT&T will allow AT&T and NavLink customers to directly interconnect to STC’s nationwide MPLS network, the company said.

“We particularly value STC’s long history and forward thinking in the technology area and we like to draw on our rich history and collaboration which goes back many years,” Geoff Webster, vice president of strategy and business development at AT&T said at a press conference during Gitex.

“One of the key things STC has done that differentiates it from competition in the region is it has deployed the newest and deepest MPLS infrastructure in Saudi Arabia,” he added.

He said the deal, the value of which, as with that of Etisalat, was not disclosed, would give AT&T access to Saudi Arabia whilst providing STC access to AT&T’s global network.

AT&T, the largest telecommunications company in the US, already has a similar node agreement with Qatar Telecom.

The company also revealed plans to set up an office in the Middle East. “We’re here for two reasons: primarily, to celebrate the service availability of the node now; and secondly, to announce we are opening our regional headquarters for the Middle East and North Africa here in Dubai,” Slamecka said.

AT&T is currently recruiting staff for the office, he added.

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