Deployment of fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) is accelerating in the Middle East but there is still a vast amount to do for a significant proportion of the population to be served by fiber connectivity. Although UAE-based Etisalat, one of the first operators to begin FTTH deployment in the region, has announced that it is nearing completion of its Abu Dhabi FTTH network - which will cover the entire city - penetration across the region will remain low. Figures from the FTTH Council Europe's Market Panorama highlight the gulf in homes passed and the population as a whole. At the end of 2008, the entire Middle East region had 7,500 FTTH/B (the B is for building) subscribers and a total of 62,000 FTTH/B homes passed. The OECD reports that the total population for the region is estimated to be almost 200 million.
The FTTH Council Europe, is keen to encourage deployments in the region and had established a Middle East Group with this goal in mind. The new group, founded in March, comprises a working group of Gulf-based and European Council members who will work together to promote the economic and social benefits of FTTH deployments in the region.
Back on the ground, the real deployment in Abu Dhabi is set to complete at the start of this year's third quarter and will be expanded to Dubai and Sharjah in the near future. Etisalat reports that it has already connected 300,000 homes to the network since 2008 and aims to connect the entire country by the end of 2011, which will involve connecting 1.4 million homes and offices. Etisalat also plans to use its experience to bid for similar contracts overseas.
I've been writing about technology for nearly 20 years, including editing industry magazines Connect and Communications International. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Anthony Plewes. My focus in Futurity Media is in emerging technologies, social media and future gazing. As a graduate of philosophy & science, I have studied futurology & foresight to the post-grad level.