Claudio Murri, EIF Asia Advisor, reports on the innovation in the UAE

27 July 2015 Author: Claudio Murri, Asia Advisor to EIF

The westernmost regions of Asia do not usually receive a lot of media attention in connection with technological breakthrough and innovation. However, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have ambitious plans to join some of the leading Asian nations at the top of this league.

The UAE Cabinet recently directed all federal government bodies to enhance cooperative activities and to revise their policies to ensure the development of a nurturing environment for innovation. 2015 was designated the Year of Innovation, and a comprehensive government strategy was unveiled with the objective of promoting creativity and ingenuity among government entities. This strategy’s long term goal is to drive progress, prosperity and innovation and, ultimately, to make the UAE one of the World’s leading countries in key index’ such as the Happiness Index and the Human Development Index. 

The UAE is not an isolated case. Many countries in the Middle East, as well as in other regions of Asia, are investing heavily in new technologies, and not only in the areas of telecommunications and internet. One technology that is being deployed massively in the region is Terrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA), especially in relations with the upgrade of many countries’ transportation infrastructure. 

TETRA has had wide success particularly with airports around the globe, since it is an open standard. It offers wide applications and has been adopted extensively around the world which means the technology is made available to the general public and is developed and maintained through a collaborative and consensus-driven process. In an airport environment, where operation workers are required to contact to the control tower in a different frequency band, the system’s interoperability provides seamless communication capabilities for differing types of devices. Furthermore, TETRA could be used to connect multiple airports together in one dynamic network.

In the Middle East, despite a high analogue installed based, digital narrowband technologies such as TETRA, and Cost Optimized Technologies are projected to achieve significant growth. The installed base of narrowband active radios is forecasted to grow to about 3.4 million in 2019, or about 65% of the terminals. The topology of the region particularly suits the deployment of high-powered P25 and TETRA equipment that are used, for example, in desert areas because of the technology’s larger cell size.

Increasingly, less economically developed countries will adopt Cost Optimized Digital technologies rather than build out nationwide networks based on high-end standards. However, demand for data is growing in a number of regions, as more users expect more sophisticated and high-bandwidth applications on their networks.  In the short- to mid-term, land mobile radio systems (LMR) technologies will gain traction, with options potentially created to move to private LTE at a later stage.

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