The Information Society Initiative. Broadband in Egypt. A. The Broadband Initiative. NTRA towards Licensing BWA. Regulatory Process

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2 Contents Introduction The Information Society Initiative Broadband in Egypt A. The Broadband Initiative B. What is Broadband Wireless Access? NTRA towards Licensing BWA WiMAX Regulatory Process Broadband and the Future Sources

3 Introduction The Internet is no longer a medium for exchanging data and information nor is it anymore seen as a repository for knowledge and e-content, rather it has become a powerful instrument assisting social and economic development and affecting all facets of any nation's economy, ranging from education and health to trade and legislation. As articulated during the WSIS process, the development of the Internet, both nationally and internationally, can only be achieved through the involvement of all stakeholders and via multilateral partnerships between governmental bodies, private sector and civil society. The Information Society Initiative With Egypt's Information Society Initiative, the Egyptian government has developed a framework to move the country into the information era. The initiative promotes partnerships of public, private, non-profit, civil society and multilateral stakeholders and fosters the development of new models of leadership and collaboration. Private sector involvement is of strategic importance in this area not only to provide technological expertise and innovation but also to take the lead in devising market-based solutions that are socially responsible and invest the capital required to build the infrastructure to put ICT at the service of development. More than half of gross domestic product (GDP) in the economies of wealthy nations comes from information-driven industries such as information technology. The vast diffusion of information and communication technologies (PCs, Internet, Telephones, etc.) and their integration in nearly all aspects of everyday life is altering economic activity and the social environment. Access to information and information technology is the cornerstone in building an information society that will impact relationships between individuals, organizations, and countries. 2

4 Broadband in Egypt A. The Broadband Initiative Widespread and affordable broadband access is fundamental in realizing the potential and development of the Information Society. Egypt's Broadband Initiative was launched in 2004 as part of the e-access program of its Information Society Initiative. It added a new dimension to the successful 'home-grown' Free Internet model introduced back in % 300% 250% 200% 150% 100% 50% 0% India Morocco Greece Romania Croatia Vietnam Broadband Growth, Q105 - Q106 Turkey Latvia Slovakia Egypt Establishing a nationwide secure broadband infrastructure is essential and in-line with the government's focus to develop and deliver services and applications necessary to compliment the advancements of sectors that include education and learning, medical and healthcare, governmental and public services, as well as industry development, trade and exports. The new broadband model was first structured, to attract small businesses then the demand spread to individuals and homes. The model was basically unbundling the local loop and clearing spectrum for provisioning of broadband wire-line and wireless services, using DSL and WiFi technologies as well as newer technologies such as CDMA, WiMAX and FTTH. The Initiative was supported by private sector investments in broadband networks. It introduced to the end user a much needed alternative for the dial-up connection and was accompanied by a promotional campaign, organized collaboratively by all stakeholders. 3

5 B- What is Broadband Wireless Access (BWA)? Broadband Internet access, often shortened to "broadband Internet" or just "broadband", is a high data-transmission rate Internet connection. BWA is a means of providing broadband access to telecommunication networks carried out in radio technology. The higher data transmission speed that it provides positions the technology as a good candidate for the provisioning of triple play services (voice, data, and video). Services also include Internet access for businesses and homes, as well as private LAN bridging in metro areas. Wireless Broadband networks are referred to as FWBA (fixed wireless broadband access) if the system does not support mobile users. Unlike wired solutions, this technology implies a number of privileges, it implies no blocking or jamming of traffic in order to dig miles of trenches for telecommunication cables, no elimination for blocks of roads to provide Internet services, or waiting for mega infrastructure projects. There is also no need to install cable or rely on existing copper infrastructure, which may prove inadequate or inappropriate. BWA offers a fast, affordable, convenient solution to Egypt's widespread Internet access needs. 4

6 NTRA Towards BWA Licensing "To encourage national and international investments within free competition rules is, by law, by outlook, and by aptitude, the core mission of NTRA". Dr. Amr Badawi NTRA Executive President It is within NTRA mandate to set the appropriate regulatory framework for new services introduced by service providers and operators to end users and to facilitate the entry of new players in the market with the aim of enhancing competition, in a way that is reflected on the Egyptian citizen in the form of affordable prices and good quality. NTRA is interested in BWA to enhance the broadband penetration and the Teleaccessibility ratio in Egypt, which will result in many benefits to the Egyptian society and the Egyptian market. One of the main benefits is bridging the existing Digital Divide, and assisting in introducing new Bundles of Services (Triple Play) to the market. Convergence between communication and media services is the overwhelming trend worldwide. Egypt has to be prepared to cope to this new trend by providing high speed infrastructure. BWA paves the way for the growth of the e-content market, by spreading high speed connections. Moreover BWA will help in increasing the Return on Investment in the existing infrastructures. In Q2 2006, broadband prices were reduced and special packages for higher speeds were introduced. Today, for prices as low as $16 per month, citizens are able to subscribe to broadband services, enjoying higher speeds starting from 256 kbps. 5

7 Statistics indicate that Internet users have exceeded five million for dial-up and one million for broadband, with seven ISPs are offering the service and the number are yet to grow. Millions Internet users However there are still many obstacles that impede the widespread adoption of Internet and explain at the same time the low broadband penetration. These obstacles include among others, problems in last mile connectivity as well as inadequate telecommunications infrastructure in certain areas. This makes BWA a more needed solution as it will help eliminate all impediments thanks to its wireless nature, which implies a widespread affordable connectivity to every person guaranteeing affordable prices, high scalability and flexibility. BWA solutions will increase the competition in the broadband market and therefore reduce the service prices to the end user. Thousands Evolution of ADSL subscribers 29,307 4,850 91, , WiMAX is one of the most evolving BWA solutions, which is considered as a viable solution for BWA in Egypt. WiMAX is a new powerful broadband wireless technology aiming at providing a "universal ubiquitous, equitable, and affordable access to ICTs infrastructure and services" and thus highly contribute to bridging the Digital Divide. 6

8 WIMAX WIMAX(an acronym that stands for Worldwide Interoperability of Microwave Access) is a new standardsbased wireless technology gaining rapid acceptance around the world. It is capable of delivering broadband Internet and extending services like Internet telephony without major disruption to transportation or other services. WiMAX is privileged by the ability to overcome shortcomings of other technologies. Current technologies in Egypt can deliver either broadband fixed technologies or wireless narrowband technologies. It moreover provides the ability to deliver affordable broadband access across Egypt, because its wireless infrastructure can be extended to provide portable and mobile device support in the future. The NTRA however is not planning to introduce mobile WiMAX in the meanwhile as the new 3G operator will be able to provide mobile broadband access that will satisfy the mobile market needs at this stage. WiMAX is sponsored by an international organization called the WiMAX forum, it is an industryled, non-profit corporation that was formed to guarantee the conformity and interoperability of WiMAX products by defining certification profiles and apply tests to the different product vendors. Because WiMAX is standard-based that is sponsored by the WiMAX forum, it can enable economies of scale and scope that will bring down the cost of broadband access and ensure interoperability while facilitate implementation. Without standards, proprietary equipment manufacturers provide the entire stack of hardware and software building blocks, and restrictive licensing can cause a surge in costs. For the service provider, standard-based products with fewer variants and larger volume production will drive the cost of equipment down. Competition among vendors will also lower equipment costs, because service providers will be able to buy from different suppliers and shop for the best price. 7

9 For consumers, wireless products will be distinguished by the service, not the technology, and thus the consumer will benefit from a variety of competitive and cost-effective solutions that match their communication needs. So WiMAX is a standard-based wireless technology that provides high-throughput broadband connections over long distances. WiMAX provides metropolitan area network (MAN) connectivity at speeds of up to 40 Mbps/channel with typical cell sizes of 2 to 10 kilometers. This is enough bandwidth that a single base station can simultaneously support tenth of businesses with T1/E1-type connectivity or hundreds of homes with Digital Subscriber Line (DSL)-type connectivity. The current IEEE (previously known as IEEE d) standard supports fixed access operation, the new IEEE e supports portable and mobile operation standard. The standard offers a great deal of design flexibility including support for licensed and licenseexempt frequency bands, channel widths ranging from 1.75 MHz to 10 MHz, per-connection, Quality of Service (QoS) and strong security primitives. IEEE is optimized to deliver high data rates to the subscriber. The sophisticated Medium Access Control (MAC) architecture can simultaneously support real-time multimedia and applications such as Voice over IP as well. This means that WiMAX is uniquely positioned to support applications requiring advanced Quality of Service, such as Internet telephony and video streaming. From the application point of view, WiMAX can provide mainly three applications, either Transmission Networks or Backhauling, or Last-Mile Access Networks (Broadband on demand). The last application gains a high interest in Egypt. 8

10 Regulatory Process Egypt, represented by NTRA is introducing a license for BWA Technologies. NTRA released a consultation process to gather the different viewpoints of experts, and market players regarding the regulatory framework for the BWA licensing, in preparation for the official issuing of the final framework. Consultation Process NTRA has planned to have a three-phase consultation process First Phase The NTRA organized a hearing session for all concerned companies including fixed operator, mobile operators, ISPs and equipment vendors. The Objective of the hearing session was to address different visions and best means of licensing BWA in Egypt. A questionnaire was published by NTRA to compile the comments and views of different stakeholders regarding the suitable methods of regulating BWA in Egypt. Main items of the questionnaire included: The technology neutrality; different BWA technologies have recently evolved worldwide, some are proprietary and others are standardized. There is always a debate on using either of them or both, and should the regulator differentiate between them in regulation or not? Implementation scenarios; shall it be Nationwide Transmission Networks and/or Backhauling and/or Last-Mile Access Networks? Scenarios for regulatory models; shall we have Nationwide Service Providers or Regional Service Providers or only Network Operators? The licensing issues; spectrum is a scare resource that needs to be effectively and efficiently managed in order to derive maximum economic and social benefit, including encouraging growth and rapid deployment of infrastructure and services for consumers. Different licensing approaches include either auction or beauty contest or hybrid model. 9

11 Most of the opinions advocated the following: Technology neutrality; instead of licensing for a certain technology. Nationwide model; instead of regional/local model. Diversity in services, particularly 'Triple Play'; instead of data only. Controversies were primarily about: Licensing existing operators or new entrants? The selection scheme: beauty contest or auction? Frequency spectrum allocation. A one-day event was then organized by NTRA for stakeholders to present their vision and experience in other regions and provide case studies for BWA regulations in other countries. Side meetings were held between NTRA experts and representatives of companies that were not able to attend the stakeholders' day. Second Phase This phase included the publishing of the consultation paper on the NTRA website to get feedback from concerned companies regarding the proposed regulatory framework of BWA. The consultation paper included the following: The main indicators of the telecommunications networks infrastructure in Egypt, The policy pursued by the NTRA in setting the related regulations, Some questions that the NTRA is posing in this regard and the replying procedures. Draft of the BWA Generic Regulatory Framework Draft of the conditions and rules regulating BWA in the frequency band 3.5 GHz. In response to the consultation paper, the NTRA has received 23 responses from different market players including, but not limited to, national and international operators, component vendors, solution integrators & vendors, and SMEs. The WiMAX Forum has published the consultation paper on its website. Third Phase 10 NTRA organized a workshop to discuss stakeholders' feedbacks on the consultation paper in order to amend the framework as seen appropriate considering the feedback of the market players. Most of the operators working in Egypt participated in the workshop together with several foreign companies. The framework will be amended accordingly to be approved by the NTRA board prior to its declaration.

12 Broadband and the Future With an evolving market, a young population, and a developing economy, the emerging broadband industry and Internet market in Egypt still possesses great potential. Although at a relatively early stage of market evolution, the country is considered a leader, in the region, in telecommunication infrastructure and a hub for traditional and digital cultural content. Further, its announced deregulation plan, will encourage more international connectivity and introduce alternative infrastructures and technologies to enable more customer choices. Broadband will fundamentally change the way Egyptians use the Internet. Availability of content and new communication platforms for delivery will have a key role to play in the future of the new wave of broadband in Egypt, paving the way for the region as well. This will be achieved by introducing a new set of services aimed to address the growing needs of users; ranging from conducting business online to participating in academic learning experiences to simply enjoying entertainment via electronic means. Collectively carried out by the Government and the ISP industry, this new phase of broadband in Egypt, based on private sector investments and competition as a driver for increased bandwidth and quality, is expected to trigger innovation and stimulate nationwide spread of next generation Internet services. 11

13 Sources _Digitaldivide.pdf oadband%20statistics%20q1% pdf 12

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