MANAMA: Work on the National Broadband Network that has a target of Internet speeds of not less than 100 Mbps for up to 95 per cent of homes in Bahrain by next year is ongoing, Transportation and Telecommunications Minister Kamal Ahmed has said.
The deployment of a high speed fibre-optic network across the country would also help to deliver speeds of one Gbps for all government and businesses entities by then, he said, adding it also includes 5G development and readiness.
The plan identifies the development of ultra-fast broadband speeds as critical to Bahrain’s economic development.
“This is in line with the government’s fourth National Telecom Plan (NTP) aimed at strengthening the kingdom’s position and ensuring that Bahrain is ranked in the top 20 countries globally when it comes to key international telecommunications indices,” he said.
Reiterating key themes of the NTP, Mr Ahmed said they were: Developing the infrastructure of high-speed broadband services; consolidating sustainable competition in the field of mobile telecommunications and developing networks and systems to deliver the best services; managing the frequency spectrum effectively; and developing wireless infrastructure to ensure optimal use of the spectrum.
The plan also aims to improve network security, increase international connectivity, enhance access to Internet applications and services, and develop Bahrain’s status as a regional ICT hub, he added.
According to the minister, IT and ICT, key sectors in their own right, were also integral components of the infrastructure needed to enable and facilitate industries like services, finance and tourism.
“Together they have the potential to become pivotal enhancers of social transformation and economic development for many years to come,” he said.
He said the government was keen to advance the sector in view of its potential in creating suitable job opportunities and boosting the national GDP.
“The kingdom has long been regarded as the Gulf’s technological pioneer. With its open and forward-thinking approach, Bahrain has proven to be an ideal testing ground for the introduction of new technologies to the region and the kingdom has experienced a fast rate of innovation.
Bahrain offers the Middle East’s only deregulated telecommunications market, and excellent telecommunications infrastructure; with fibre-optic cable links to the rest of the Gulf and fast Internet download speeds.
“In addition there are strict intellectual property laws to protect intellectual capital and create the conditions needed for software development outsourcing, which is why many leading international ICT businesses choose to take advantage of Bahrain’s favourable business environment and base their Middle East enterprises in the kingdom.”
The minister was speaking on the sidelines of the MEET ICT Information and Communication Technology Conference and the Bahrain International Technology Exhibition (Bitex) that began yesterday at the Gulf Hotel Convention and Spa, under his patronage.
Referring to the theme of the event, “Embracing The Digital Transformation”, Mr Ahmed said, “We are witnessing rapid development and breakout of numerous technologies, such as AI, intelligent apps and things, virtual and augmented reality, digital technology platforms and more. It’s only a matter of time when all business activities will be fully digitally transformed.”
Organised by Bahrain Technology Companies Society (BTECH) in partnership with Worksmart Event Management, the three-day event is expected to see 500 participants from all over the world.
BTECH chairman Ubaydli Ubaydli said Bahraini enterprises should look to work with various public sector organisations via the public-private partnership model to take advantage of the digital transformation of Gulf economies and increase their capability and efficiency.
Mr Ahmed opened Bitex 2018 exhibition which for the first time has a Hungary Pavilion with as many as eight companies from that country.