In the last two years, the Arab Spring has brought about great political changes in the Middle East. Demands for societal changes must be met with concrete development plans that yield new employment opportunities, economic stability and growth.
According to some predictions, economies that experienced a regime change as a result of the Arab Spring contracted in 2011, but will see their economic growth rebound in 2012. To secure and sustain this expected growth, countries must invest in communications connectivity, especially high-speed broadband and wireless access.
The Middle East is already taking a promising first step with ambitious investment plans for local telecom actors. The next step is to make sure these new services and communication tools benefit every citizen. To do so, telecommunications companies will need to build cost-effective, high-speed networks with a variety of business models to meet widespread communications needs – this means investment in wireless and wireline infrastructure.
Any successful mobile infrastructure must be supported by massive IP infrastructure; there will also continue to be growth opportunities for fixed services. Communications operators in the Middle East must be serious about investing in high-speed mobile LTE networks, including next-generation mobile broadband.
Solutions such as Alcatel-Lucent’s lightRadio builds an “anytime, anywhere” mobile backbone that fosters widespread inclusiveness. As new urban development continues to emerge throughout the region, low power-consuming invisible networks will increasingly become a part of successful urban planning – delivering capacity without urban technology clutter (roof antennas, etc.) as the new future. These new developments offer a unique “green field” build, which is ideal for accelerating towards the next generation of wireless broadband.
The communications revolution will help the wider Middle East harness the energy and potential of its young people. Tapping into this energy and innovation in the region could create a fertile ground for new Internet-based and mobile communications ventures.
Fueling this innovation requires nurturing countries to support and motivate talented people, as well as provide access to funding. This revolution also requires careful planning and encouragement to build broadband networks, both fixed and wireless – it will be a catalyst of growth opportunities for the next decade and beyond.
Amr El-Leithy is President, Middle East, Africa and Turkey, Alcatel-Lucent, and Wim Sweldens is President, Alcatel-Lucent Wireless Division. Both will be participating at the World Economic Forum on the Middle East, North Africa and Eurasia in Istanbul on 4-6 June 2012. Wim Sweldens will be a panellist in the “Cutting Edge Technology” session on 6 June 2012.
Pictured: An opposition supporter holds up a laptop showing images of celebrations in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, after Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak resigned. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez