Exclusive Interviews

InfiNet Wireless, a market leader in wireless communication and connectivity, has further boosted its product services following the launch of its latest range of products. Its innovative new products were showcased at GITEX 2016, the massive electronics trade show, exhibition and conference held annually in Dubai. Global vice president of InfiNet Wireless, Kamal Mokrani, outlined the changes the company has made to its existing product line this year and discussed its strategic plan for the forthcoming year with Telecom Review.

"We are a company that invests heavily in our research and development cycle as it's one of our strategies to stay ahead of our competitors as much as we possibly can. This particular year we're launching what we call two main families of products and we are showcasing them here as part of the launch program that we have," said Mr. Mokrani.

"Specifically, we have what is known as the XG1000, which is a product that allows operators that need backhauling solutions to double their capacity and their connectivity using the same spectrum they had before - so effectively, it's sweating the existing assets, but with much more productivity."

InfiNet has established itself as a leader in wireless communications due to continued excellence in providing outstanding connectivity to users at all times even in geographically isolated regions. The company also unveiled that it has developed base station technology that not only ensures better connectivity but also eradicates issues caused by interferences.

Mr. Mokrani added, "The second range of our products is the development of basestations, or basestation technology, which not only ensures better connectivity for users but also eliminates or mitigates interferences. Dependent on the country, radio frequencies can be pretty jammed, but we have developed a technology that basically takes all that into account and ensures complete transparency to the end user, which delivers from A to B or whatever needs to be delivered from A to B with zero packet launches."

Regional factors such as the drop in oil prices have impacted InfiNet, but the impact has not had a detrimental effect on its business as it isn't solely focused on the Middle Eastern market. Mr. Mokrani explains further, "Obviously it has impacted us. I would be lying if I said it hadn't, but it has impacted every sector in the industry. However, the great thing about our company is that we're not like other vendors; we're not focused entirely on this market.

We pretty much work across what we call five vertical markets which encompasses the energy sector, transportation sector, operators, government and enterprise markets. Thankfully for what we offer, we have made up for the drop in the oil and gas (energy) sector in the other key vertical sectors.

To be more specific, if you look at the homeland security market, for example, it is expanding because of the unfortunate situation in insecure countries with war and conflict, but that has actually increased the potential for us."

Mr. Mokrani explained that the new products they were launching were resolving a number of issues - especially frequency problems but that the company's vision and strategy remains in terms of connectivity for users.

"XG is quite a broad family. We have XG - we don't call it 500, but it kind of stops at 500Mbps. But we have a lot of different frequency plans for that; basically, a lot of frequencies are being re-farmed, they were allocated for something different. But now they are being freed up so what we are developing and launching here are these new frequencies.

The second range of families is a multi-point, which is new basestations, which as I mentioned before is to cater for interferences and to ensure better connectivity no matter how congested the environment is from a radio point of view."

InfiNet's CEO then spoke about the solutions the company is providing for carriers and mobile operators in the region, and said that InfiNet changed its strategy in relation to carriers after admitting that a few years ago, they offered them very little.

"About three years ago, we didn't really offer much for the carriers themselves, but we looked at it from a strategic point of view and we decided that it really was a market we ought to target. We had previously felt that the solutions at that time were either too expensive or didn't really deliver to what the customer wanted or expected.

Specifically for the mobile operators, they are very interested in high capacity and low latency. I mean the last thing you want if you're making a voice call is to have a delay of more than ten micro seconds. Our research and development team have embarked upon a program to develop a solution specifically for the carriers, and I believe we've reached a stage now where we are taking it to market. We will be attending the Mobile World Congress next year in Barcelona for the third consecutive year.

We are offering specific products for carriers, and the idea is to offer them pure IP transport to back-hold all these 4G or LTE basestations. We have a big customer here: du, the operator, who uses our technology. In fact, we have such a good partnership with du when we bring new technologies to them they are happy to work with us and do field testing and fine tuning. We do regard this as probably the biggest market for us in, let's say, in two to three years on a global basis."

Mr. Mokrani provided examples of solutions InfiNet Wireless has provided in the enterprise and corporate markets, before reiterating their mantra is all about connectivity. He continued, "I would say about 60 percent of what we do is in the enterprise and corporate markets, and what we provide is connectivity in a nutshell. Whether it is banks or manufacturing, we are providing solutions and services, wherever the locations are we can bring them back and connect them to the headquarters.

If you look at banks, for example, ATM machines can be located in isolated locations, sometimes in the middle of nowhere really. But if you look up you will see a radio unit on top of the ATM machine which gives you connectivity regardless of what time you go to get money out - it could be the middle of the night but it doesn't matter.

We also do a lot in manufacturing and, for example, in Saudi Arabia we work with quite a large logistics company. The company has warehouses all over the region and is constantly moving goods, whether it be fish or milk products or tins of tomatoes, and they use our network or technology to ensure things get delivered on time every time, and that nothing perishes along the way. They can manage this through our remote stock control and management solutions. These are just a few examples of businesses in the enterprise market that we have helped."

InfiNet Wireless has their strategy clearly mapped out, and their plans heading into 2017 are to keep doing what they're doing, as it is thus far proving very successful. The belief at InfiNet is that they've changed their position from being a follower to a leader in wireless technology and will continue to develop new products and services to provide solutions across all the sectors they serve.

In an effort to support it’s exponential growth, Tamer Group, a leading healthcare, beauty care, prestige products, and fast moving consumer goods company, based in Saudi Arabia, has recently partnered with InfiNet Wireless to ensure seamless connectivity and high bandwidth across several new facilities in Jeddah. The InfiNet solution has allowed Tamer Group to deploy and support several business-critical applications with far less management and maintenance, all at a significantly lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).

Explaining the reasons for deciding to upgrade their wireless network infrastructure and work with InfiNet, Mr. Mohannad Al Jammal, Head of IT Operations & Network Infrastructure at Tamer Group said, “One of the big challenges we faced was the topography and the distance between our head office and the remote branches; many of the locations are about 30-40 km apart. So deploying a wireless network that was reliable and stable in these harsh conditions was at the top of our priority list. In parallel, we needed to ensure that the new wireless network could provide high bandwidth that would not only support the existing business needs but also be future-proofed for demand over the next few years. Given our unique requirements, InfiNet was the only viable solution on the market.”

Working with United Horizons, InfiNet’s partner in Saudi Arabia, Tamer Group deployed InfiNet’s InfiLINK 2x2 5GHz PRO & LITE family of products across all 20 locations in Jeddah. For the critical connection between their data center and head office, Tamer Group deployed the R5000-Omx model as it could support speeds of up to 300 Mbps over the 50 km distance. For connections between all other sites, Tamer Group deployed the R5000-Smn and the R5000-Lmn products.

One of the biggest benefits of the InfiNet solution has been the ability for Tamer Group to transmit significant volumes of business-critical data between their various sites. They currently depend on the InfiNet solution for exchange synchronization of their Storage Area Networks (SANs) in their data center and disaster recovery sites. 

Another benefit has been the long-term cost savings. As Mr. Al Jammal explains, “The upfront investment for the InfiNet solution, when compared to other technologies, is slightly higher as obviously, there are a lot of hardware costs. But over the long term, the TCO is much lower. Implementing the InfiNet solution has also saved our IT resources a lot of time, as it has significantly reduced the amount of effort required to manage and maintain the network. While we do have the ability to monitor several parameters like performance, availability, bandwidth and transmission on a day-to-day basis, we have a service contract in place with United Horizons to take care of any problems with the network.”

“I am extremely pleased with the InfiNet solutions – the reliability and stability of the network has allowed us to deploy and support several business-critical processes. Based on our experience with InfiNet, I am confident that as we expand our operations, we will rely on InfiNet solutions for our wireless network infrastructure,” concluded Mr. Al Jammal.

Connectivity, collaboration, sustainability and inclusiveness were the key themes of the opening session of the high-level Leadership Summit, sponsored by TRA, UAE and moderated by Jeremy Wilks of Euronews, media partner of the Leadership Summit.

Extending connectivity - and the tremendous potential for social, economic and human development it brings - is critical. "The digital divide is very much still with us, a divide of geography and gender, of education and resources. It is imperative that we continue to work to close that digital divide," urged ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao.

Summarizing the challenges involved in tackling digital exclusion, Air Chief Marshal Prajin Juntong, Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand and Acting Minister of Digital Economy and Society, focused on four key pillars of acitivity, which resonated throughout the discussion: the digital economy, connectivity, cybersecurity and capacity building.

"Governments must create policies that focus on citizen empowerment, digital skills and the creation of a business environment that allows business to grow by leveraging technology," he said, citing the example of Thailand's dynamic SME and entrepreneurship ecosystem.

What extending connectivity means in practice may vary greatly. The European Commission's Digital Single Market strategy, explained Fátima Barros, Chair of Portuguese regulator ANACOM, puts digital centre stage to grow the economy within and across the region. Its ambitious new broadband targets aim for at least 100 Mbps download speed for all households, 1 Gigabit for institutions such as hospitals and universities, and full 5G wireless broadband coverage in urban areas and major transport routes by 2025.

In India, the scale and nature is somewhat different - as R. S. Sharma, Chairman of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), pointed out, "45% of the unconnected are in India", and supplying basic power is often the first priority, rather than top broadband speeds. But both Europe and India face the challenges of uniting different states with different languages and at different stages of development; and the need for large-scale investment, a technology-neutral hybrid approach to networks and regulatory reform are universal.

The government's Digital India initiative will digitally empower society and transform the country, explained Sharma, through three parallel strands of development: infrastructure, including digital identity data in the cloud; software; and the services riding on top. Providing those services, whether in education, agriculture, health or any other sector, will only be possible through collaboration and partnership.

New regulatory approaches must enable open standards, software and systems to break down silos, encourage multiple technologies and ensure growth. For Barros, it is a balancing act: "The big challenge to achieving connectivity is keeping the goal of building the single market whilst sustaining competition."

Sparkle announces that it will provide GÉANT with a 2,5 Gbps circuit from Marseille (France) to Annaba (Algeria), boosting the existing connectivity currently dedicated to Algeria's scientists, academics and students community. Sparkle has historically provided network solutions for GÉANT since 2002 to reinforce connectivity among education and research centers located in different countries including India, Tunisia, Malta, Morocco, Egypt, Cyprus, Greece. Currently Sparkle also provides GÉANT with 5Gbps connectivity to Brazil.

CERIST (Research Centre on Scientific and Technical Information), the organization that manages Algeria's national Research & Education network, ARN, has been part of GÉANT's network since 2004. ARN currently interconnects over 800,000 users at 124 research and academic institutions across Algeria. Through its interconnection to GÉANT's pan-European network, ARN enables researchers, academics and students in Algeria to participate in world-class international research and educational activities in areas such as high-energy physics and earth observation.

Today Sparkle owns and operates one of the largest global and technologically advanced network of about 570.000 km of fiber. Sparkle's global backbone also leverages on an extensive ownership in the main international submarine cables connecting Europe with South-East Asia (e.g.: SEA-ME-WE 3, SEA-ME-WE 4, IMEWE and the upcoming SEA-ME-WE 5) as well as in consortia and bilateral submarine cables in the Mediterranean basin (e.g. to Malta, Tunisia, Libya, Israel, Turkey). Sparkle's open ecosystem and rich marketplace Sicily Hub in Palermo, located in the middle of the Mediterranean basin, reinforces Sparkle's strategic role in serving the growing capacity demand between Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia Pacific.

Sicily Hub provides lowest latency to customers located in North Africa, the Mediterranean and the Middle East than any other European peering point because of its geographical position and it is connected to all cable landing stations in Sicily.

In the Americas Sparkle manages a state-of the-art regional proprietary fiber optic network which is part of its global backbone and that connects Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Panama, Peru, Venezuela and USA with the rest of the world. Sparkle is also the main investor in Seabras-1, the only submarine cable system to directly connect Sao Paulo, Brazil, to New York, USA, that will go in full operation by 2017.

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Telecom Review Summit 2016

Digital Magazine

Feb 2017

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