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The Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA) invited Telecom Review to the official press conference for the Internet Exchanges Union initiative “United IX,” which aims to link the SmartHub-IX platform, supported by etisalat by e&, and UAE-IX platform, supported by du, to form an integrated interconnection system at the national level.

The joining of the two platforms allows the interconnection of all connected customers, regardless of the service provider, and is the first cooperation of its kind in the Middle East.

Commenting on this step, H.E. Majed Sultan Al Mesmar, TDRA director general, said: “This initiative is part of TDRA’s efforts to develop the telecom sector infrastructure [and] enhance interconnection and integration, to serve the objectives of attracting investments, providing the best experience for global companies such as emerging technology companies and service providers, in addition to enhancing speed of data transmission and improving response time.”

Speaking to Telecom Review about the benefits of this project, Al Mesmar gave the example of sending emails and routing the traffic internationally, which can cause delays. “Why do I have to do that outside when I can have the UAE to be the main hub for the whole region?” he pondered in making his point. 

The TDRA Director General added that the United IX initiative also enables business continuity, in the case that submarine cables connecting the UAE to the world — 17 as of present — are cut off or interfered with.

H.E. Masood Mohamed Sharif Mahmood, CEO of etisalat by e&, expressed: “For us, SmartHub IX is a key supporter of our digital infrastructure in the region, and we are committed to making it the partner of choice for carriers, cloud service providers, internet providers and companies looking for business-class data centers.”

This cooperation will build on the capabilities of our SmartHub IX platform and be in line with the overall strategy of e& group to provide digital transformation technologies and innovative solutions to the telecom sector’s customers in various fields.

On a further note, H.E. Fahad Al Hassawi, CEO of Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (du), articulated: “As part of this partnership, du will harness the world-class capabilities of our datamena center to create and design hybrid environments for ICT systems. Our interconnection services and solutions that we will provide under this partnership will enhance the capabilities and quality of modern communication technologies, enabling our partners and all stakeholders to establish direct and secure communications and link their operations across multiple sites, as well as achieve savings in time and costs.”

The main driver of this partnership is seamless and reliable communication, which is an essential pillar for modern organizations.

In response to Telecom Review’s question on how they are targeting customers from outside the UAE and what will influence the telcos’ IXs traffic demand further, Meshal Awad Juma Alayali Almheiri, manager of digital policies development at TDRA, answered: “By announcing this initiative, we can motivate and attract investors to come into the UAE. One of the main challenges, when they come into the UAE, is seeing two different islands [Etisalat or du] with no connectivity in between. With this initiative, any customer residing on either IX can connect interchangeably. Now, we are considering ourselves as a digital hub for the region based on the size of traffic [455 Gbps].”

Currently, the traffic between SmartHub-IX and UAE-IX within the UAE passes through international routes. By having this integration, more traffic will be added to the country. Multiple organizations will benefit from this data localization effort.

In terms of security, both etisalat by e& and du implement the latest technologies to ensure that all the traffic and services within their respective internet exchanges are kept secure and protected at all costs.

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