“Cross-industry collaboration has now become a necessity” – Pete Hall, Ciena

Pete Hall, Regional Managing Director, Ciena Middle East & Africa, has said that cross-industry collaboration is now a necessity, if the Middle East wants to establish itself as a key player in the digital landscape.

Recently, industry leaders in the Middle East put a lot of emphasis on the critical importance of the subsea cable landscape and the evolving dynamics of communication infrastructure in the region. History, combined with forward-looking projections, painted a comprehensive picture of the challenges and opportunities shaping the industry today.

Over the past couple of decades, at least 20 different cable systems have been set up in the Middle East. A notable concentration of these systems, around 15 to 17, traverses the Red Sea and onwards to the Mediterranean Sea through Egypt. However, the earlier systems operate on relatively low fiber pair counts, impacting overall capacity.

Looking forward to the next 12 to 24 months, I anticipate a significant surge in the deployment of cable systems. This surge is not merely about increasing the number of systems; it involves a strategic shift towards higher fiber counts, ranging from 8 to 16, and even higher. As the Middle East positions itself as a key player in the global digital landscape, the need for robust and high-capacity communication networks is paramount.

Beyond statistics and projections, the global and regional demand for increased capacity is a lucrative opportunity. This growing demand positions the industry for strategic investment and innovation, capitalizing on the opportunities that come with a digitally interconnected world.

As the industry strives for more cost-efficient and reliable services, the imperative for alternative or dual infrastructure choices aligns with the overarching goal of meeting the growing demand for connectivity while ensuring global network resilience, reliability, and security.

Increased cross-industry collaboration is required

Executing regional network projects involves challenges beyond technical complexities, encompassing regulatory, political, and logistical hurdles. A collaborative mindset is crucial in navigating these multifaceted challenges to better achieve resilience and reliability, and overcome the challenges associated with executing regional network projects. In any complex landscape where cooperation and competition interplay, enhanced teamwork represents a practical approach to accelerating success.

As the Middle East aims to solidify its position as a digital connectivity hub, cross-industry collaboration becomes both a strategy and a necessity. The interconnected nature of subsea and terrestrial networks requires a concerted effort to align interests, share resources, and collectively contribute to the region’s digital advancement.

Considering these advancements, regulatory challenges need to align with the evolving landscape demanding governments’ increasing support. Navigating the regulatory landscape is a complex task, given the wide range of governing bodies and interests in the region. My optimism stems from a recognition that governments are increasingly viewing communication infrastructure as a strategic asset rather than a simple utility. The industry’s ability to work closely with governments and regulatory bodies will be critical in ensuring a conducive environment for sustainable growth.

Technological responsibility

While growing demand, collaborative approaches, and optimized regulatory frameworks will build a strong foundation for regional infrastructure, industry players have a responsibility to make hardware and technology more efficient from both a capacity and energy consumption perspective. The call for delivering flexible and cost-effective solutions reflects a commitment to providing value to end-users, both humans and machines. This technological responsibility aligns with the broader industry drive of relentless innovation, overland and undersea.

In an era where sustainability and efficiency are paramount, the focus on making technology address both these goals not only addresses current needs but also positions the sector for sustainable growth in the future. The call for more efficient technology that sustainably scales aligns with the broader global conversation about the environmental impact of digital infrastructure.

The outlook for the Middle East subsea cable landscape remains optimistic. Regional players are invested in working toward the proliferation of new cable routes and cable landing sites to improve diversity for increased availability. This is a testament to the industry’s adaptability to address ongoing change from both technology and business viewpoints. The emphasis on increased openness, collaboration, and a willingness to cooperate sets a positive tone for navigating the seas of connectivity in the Middle East.

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