With the landing of four submarine cables in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) this year, the country could see lower internet prices and faster speeds.
Explaining the benefits
Emirati residents have long complained that internet speeds in the Middle Eastern country fall short of expectations. Many also believe that internet prices are too high. But according to the Managing Director of Etisalat submarine unit E-Marine, the company laying the cables, this technology could bring quicker mobile internet speeds to the UAE, incentivising its lead operators to revise prices.
Regional news agency Gulf Business reports that E-Marine Managing Director Omar Jassim bin Kalban elaborated on this subject. Kalban suggested that the cables could also make it easier for the UAE to manage an expected rise in mobile data usage. Considering the fact that technologies such as 5G mobile networks are expected to be introduced into the Emirates by 2020, there’s reason to believe that data usage in the UAE will rise significantly during the latter half of this decade.
Laying the cables
Kalbam explained that the new cables will stretch from Europe to Far East Asia, bringing the country’s total cable connections to over 15. The cables are believed to include:
- SeaMeWe-5: Spanning 20,000 kilometres (km) from France to Singapore, this cable should be completed in November 2016.
- The Bay of Bengal Gateway: Stretching an 8,100km distance from Malaysia to the UAE, this cable was finished in the first quarter of this year.
- The Asia-Africa Europe-1 Cable: Spanning a massive 25,00km between China and France, evidence suggests that this cable is scheduled for completion in the final quarter of 2016.
Improving internet infrastructure
Under this programme, the Emirates will receive “better connectivity” to the outside world. Kalban added that due to the implementation of new technological initiatives such as this programme within the next decade, the UAE’s bandwidth will eventually be four times its current capacity.
It is important to note that submarine cables form the backbone of the world’s internet. As demand for both data and diversity rises, old cables are upgraded and new ones proposed to prevent outage increases which could damage global internet infrastructure. Explaining the effectiveness of this system, Kalban said: “In case of damage, you will never have 100% failure as there is a diversity in routing which will guarantee that most of the traffic is maintained at the same quality of service.”
Driving economic growth
It is vital that Emirati consumers have access to efficient digital services. Figures from Euromonitor International Middle East suggest that internet sales in the UAE accounted for 3.9% of total Emirati sales in 2015, with this expected to rise to 4.6% this year. Commenting on this data, Euromonitor noted that “we are seeing an explosive growth in e-commerce” in the UAE, indicating that this could drive the Emirati retail market to new heights going forward.
In Huawei Corporate Marketing’s latest Global Connectivity Index (GCI), the UAE was named one of the leading developing countries in terms of national and economic digitisation. Speaking on the importance of digitisation, Huawei President Kevin Zhang said: “A revolutionary shift is occurring in the way the world works, with economies across the planet going digital fast.
“Nations that are in the early stages of economic digitisation should develop long-term technology plans that include broadband and data centres to reap the benefits of enhanced growth.” Here, we see that the UAE is acting on Zhang’s advice. By laying new submarine cables which are set to improve connectivity, the UAE could provide consumers with the effective internet they require to do more shopping online, potentially allowing the Emirates to reap new economic benefits.
About Abdulrahman Al Ansari
Abdulrahman Al Ansari has more than 18 years of experience in the global financial services industry. He serves as the chairman of a number of reputable financial firms including AMA Investment Holding and Bid Capital Management Consultancy.
Abdulrahman’s professional portfolio encompasses a diverse range of sectors from commodities and natural resources to education, healthcare, oil & gas and investment banking. He has earned a reputation as an innovator, who consistently develops new ideas and solutions to address the complex and demanding challenges which confront his clients every day. Over the years, Abdulrahman has cultivated a special interest in the continued economic and community development of the UAE.