Three lessons learned.
With SD-WAN playing a key role in driving network transformations, the relevance of the Internet as the underlay of choice continues to grow at a similar pace. And while sourcing ISPs can be quite straightforward within your country or region, global businesses are often finding hurdles when bringing internet connectivity to offshore locations.
This is no exception for the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region, where internal conflict, strict regulations (or the lack of them), and limited infrastructure can often get in the way of your connectivity projects.
Since 2012, our team of experts has been helping global customers to overcome these challenges, building expertise, contacts and lessons learned that you might want to consider when entering this region:
The Middle East is strategically located between Europe, Africa and Asia, and due to investor-friendly legislation and favourable financial and tax structures, many of its cities have become business hubs for global companies. However, when it comes to sourcing local internet access in the Middle East, some countries can be particularly strict when it comes to regulations. One example is the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The existing duopoly (between Etisalat and DU) in UAE has great influence in the process of sourcing and contracting internet access in that region, and it is required by the government to contract these services locally – without any intermediaries.
“Globalinternet’s staff has met personally with Directors from the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority in UAE to ensure we can continue to support our global customers in the region.”
Though this makes it seem that it’s not possible to outsource the management of local ISPs, Globalinternet’s staff has met personally with Directors from the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority in UAE to ensure we can continue to support our global customers in the region by facilitating the provision of local internet access. Hence, we can still arrange the delivery, payment and management of local connectivity, while guiding our customers to ensure they also play by that same “book” we’ve come to learn by heart.
When we were tasked to connect a customer site in Algeria at a (literally) deserted location 10 hours away from the capital, not even the customer expected it would be done in six-weeks time! (Sometimes this can be hard even in urban areas around the world).
The fact is that when it comes to connectivity, Africa has changed notably and continues to evolve at a rapid pace. In the last years, we’ve seen better connections to submarine cables and more fibre being rolled out in more countries. Although broadband is still not widely available, wireless or VSAT are an alternative for backup and in remote locations.
“The political landscape may change from one country to the other. Regular power cuts still happen in some countries. And your delivery plans can be disrupted (or surprisingly quick!).”
This is Africa. With 50+ countries in it, it’s diverse and unpredictable. The political landscape may change from one country to the other. Regular power cuts still happen in some countries. And your delivery plans can be disrupted (or surprisingly quick!).
Regardless, the main lesson shared by our experts is that the partnerships you build with local providers, combined with rigorous and a close follow-up from your team, is the key to success when dealing with network projects in this region. Good thing: we have both.
Though is not an every-day scenario, it’s possible that companies or organisations with sites in countries affected by internal turmoil may also require local connectivity. Rest assured that this can be done.
However, in many of these cases, it’s not the strong regulations but the lack of them that might come in the way. Service Level Agreements can be limited or might quickly be affected by unexpected events. Contingency plans should be in place and, depending on the country and its infrastructure, consider building resiliency into your networks.
At Globalinternet, we have been serving customers in countries such as Libya and Somalia – during stable and difficult times. By maintaining close contact with our local partners and putting their wellbeing as a number one priority (strict security measures are in place for field engineers), we’ve been able to meet our customers’ requirements, keeping them updated on the status of their connections, and up and running where needed.
And there’s more. Local laws, restrictions for specific applications and content (like VoIP in the Middle East), or local festivities – we’ve got it covered.