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The Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (TRA) attended the roundtable session organized by the SAMENA Telecommunications Council entitled “Building Fiber-optic Connectivity Corridors for Digital Economy: Lighting Up a Fiber Future”, with participation of key leaders and personalities from the ICT industry worldwide.

The roundtable talks discussed the importance, utility and reliability of fiber optic networks, in particular with regard to data safety and long-distance transmission, and the role of fiber optics in supporting innovation policies in several sectors that rely on ICTs, such as 5G, IoT and smart city technologies. The session also touched on the importance of optical fiber in realizing digital transformation, and how to accelerate the development of the fiber and ICT infrastructure.

In his speech during the roundtable agenda, H.E. Eng. Majed Sultan Al Mesmar, TRA’s Deputy Director General of the Telecommunications Sector, praised the great efforts of SAMENA in enabling digital transformation in the region, adding, “The ICT sector has long been the attention of our wise leadership, being the gateway to a future driven by digital transformation, knowledge economy and smart cities. As we have worked in the past to prepare for the present, we are working today to prepare for tomorrow through the largest collaborative national campaign to design the next 50 years towards UAE Centennial 2071, under a keen patronage of our leadership. This includes all areas, especially the telecommunications and digital transformation sector that lies at the heart of things.”

H.E. affirmed that the past months have been a real test of the quality of the fiber optic network infrastructure, which the UAE has worked to develop over the past years, and stated, “Today, as we review the last 10 months, assessing performance and results, we have become more aware than ever of the soundness of decisions on building an optical fiber network that cost us tens of billions of dollars during the first decade of the 21st century. If there is another important lesson to be learnt from this experience, it would be the importance of mutual trust between the government and telecommunications service providers. This trust has been a catalyst in creating a positive environment from which everyone benefits today.”

The panel discussion talked about the strategies and challenges of fiber deployment, and key technologies that can help mitigate such challenges. Panelists also discussed how to reduce the time and cost of fiber deployment by intra- and inter-industry sharing of infrastructure.

The session addressed methods of Public-Private partnerships, taxation relief, licensing policies, key decisions that can be made in the design and deployment of fiber, and how to promote and invest in fiber, given the projected strong demand over the next decade and beyond, which includes deployment of 5G networks and improved broadband access.

The UAE ranked first in the Gulf, Arab Region, and Western Asia, and the seventh globally in the Telecommunication Infrastructure Index (TII), according to the UN E-Government Survey 2020.

It also ranked second in Asia in this index. In addition, the UAE made significant progress in the global competitiveness indicators of the telecommunications sector in the report, maintaining the 1st place globally in the mobile subscription index, and advancing from 2nd to 1st globally in the mobile broadband Internet subscription index.

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