Qatar to invest $500m in fibre network


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Qatar will invest more than half a billion dollars upgrading its broadband network over the next few years as it looks to boost capacity for new telecom operators, the CEO of Qatar National Broadband Network Company (Qnbn) has told Arabian Business.

The state-backed firm, which is charged with rolling out the next generation fibre optics network across the Gulf state, said the investment will provide opportunities for up to two new operators.

“This is not an announced figure yet but at this point the government has announced a half billion dollars as an overall investment, but that will obviously grow a bit higher,” Mohamed Ali Al-Mannai said.

“We see there is the potential opportunity for more competitors to come into the market, but in which form this is not clear yet, whether it would be a full telco operator or a small service provider,” he said.

“We can be a good catalyst for competition and for providers to ride over our networks… The way we are building the network it can take multiple operators on top of it. We can go up to three or four operators on the network that is being built,” he added.

Gas-rich Qatar aims to boost its high speed fibre optic penetration to 95 percent from a current level of five percent in a few years. Qnbn will connect 30,000 homes by the end of 2012 and 300,000 by 2015, said Al-Mannai.

Qnbn’s aim to prepare the Gulf state to be able to hand the telecommunication demands that the hosting the FIFA World Cup 2022 will bring, he added.

“There is a 2022 requirement and we are in coordination with the organizing committee here in Qatar to share with them our plans. By 2022, we will have decent coverage across the nation to support any requirement… and to support all the events,” he said.

Qnbn and Qtel in May signed a deal to develop high speed communications to Qatar. Under the agreement, Qtel will supply Qnbn with duct network access and access to other passive telecommunications infrastructure over the next 20 years.

“The plan is to utilise, as much as possible, existing structure so we can save time, rather than dig up the roads and doing all the civil work,” Al-Mannai said.