Investing in fixed network infrastructure to boost regional digital economy

 On October 19, 2021, the Ultra-Broadband Forum (UBBF) 2021, themed “Extend Connectivity, Drive Growth”, was held in Dubai. At the event, Bocar A. Ba, CEO of the SAMENA Telecommunications Council, delivered a keynote speech titled “Investing in Fixed Network Infrastructure to Promote the Development of Regional Digital Economy.” He shared his insights and suggestions on how to promote fixed network infrastructure, provide effective digital services to boost the digital economy, and build an ultra-broadband network affordable to everyone. 

Bocar explained his belief that the power of broadband needs to be fully leveraged in order to accelerate economic recovery, create new opportunities, and promote the digital economy, viewing the Internet as “the lifeblood of digital economy.” He also emphasized that advanced ICT infrastructures, including elastic networks, innovated mobile broadband, innovated fixed broadband, cloud communications, artificial intelligence, and new Internet protocols, are key to providing high-quality and enhanced network connectivity.

To meet the future requirements of billions of connections, Bocar stressed the need for an intelligent world “built on enhanced connectivity”. This intelligent world requires “bigger pipes and the right protocol, specifically, the right Internet Protocol”, to support “human-to-human, human-to-machine, and machine-to-machine digital life”. And in order to achieve enhanced connectivity, IP addresses are needed. Only IPv6 can solve “the IP address shortage issue forever.” Evolution to IPv6+ and enhancing connectivity help “our society to thrive in the digitally-driven future.”

Bocar also said that an intelligent world starts with ultra-broadband. “By ‘ultra’, we don’t just mean ultra-low latency, ultra-high bandwidth and data transmission rates, and massive connections. In fact, we are referring to the enablement of 5G transport, Internet of Things, data center interconnects, enterprise cloud applications, rendition of virtual-reality content through fast and stable transport networks.” Moreover, he highlighted the need to invest in broadband networks. Promoting the construction of fixed network infrastructure and providing effective digital services will be key to ensuring that everyone “can afford broadband connectivity and quality-of-service.”

However, due to the digital divide, this goal is still far from being achieved. Bocar believes that the digital divide is split into three categories:

  • Divide between developed nations and developing nations.
  • Divide between affluent communities within a country versus poor communities/households.
  • Divide between population segments.

To bridge the digital divide, a reliable ICT infrastructure that supports the “data demands of both people and machines” needs to be built. As more and more people and things go online, continuous investment in communications networks is required to ensure fast connections and data transmission between people, between people and things, and between things and things.

In light of this, fiber and IPv6 must be used in the construction of fixed network infrastructure. Bocar emphasized the need to physically bring fiber closer to end users. In addition, IPv6+needs to be deployed on each end user device, IoT, or cloud service. This will not only provide a massive address space, but also improve the digital experience quality of all services.

In wrapping up his keynote, Bocar called for faster deployment of fibers and transition to IPv6 and IPv6+ in order to achieve the goal of extending connectivity and driving growth.