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Ciena provides foundation for new Batelco Gulf Network

Ciena provides foundation for new Batelco Gulf Network

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Batelco has selected Ciena’s Converged Packet Optical Platform as the foundation for the new Batelco Gulf Network Cable System which connects all countries across the GCC as a reliable alternative to  submarine cables with greater scalable capacity and shorter inter-Gulf latency. This runs over a state-of-the-art optical transport network and provides Bahrain with a new international gateway enabling it to deal with mission critical traffic.

Batelco, the Bahrain Telecommunications Company, the leading digital services provider in the Kingdom of Bahrain, has selected Ciena’s Converged Packet Optical Platform as the foundation for the new Batelco Gulf Network (BGN).

The BGN runs over a state-of-the-art optical transport network (OTN) to meet the demand for reliable and cost-effective high bandwidth connectivity and capacity for Batelco customers and international carriers’ wholesale needs, supporting up to 8.8Tbps and beyond.

The BGN cable system will be connecting all the countries across the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) in the Arabian Gulf region. Consumers and businesses across the GCC are consuming more OTT (Over-The-Top) content such as HD video and services from local and international providers, driving demand for additional high-speed connectivity services. 

The BGN terrestrial fibre cable extends 1,400km and is managed by Batelco with full control and manageability and can be interconnected with other regional and global cable systems for access to onward connectivity to Europe, Asia, Africa and the rest of the world. 

Batelco Chief Global Business Officer, Adel Al-Daylami, said that Batelco chose to invest in the Batelco Gulf Network as a fully owned and managed terrestrial fibre optic cable network, thus providing the country with a new state-of-the-art international gateway that will enable Bahrain to meet the growing demand for data services and applications. 

“The BGN is a reliable alternative to more vulnerable submarine cables, all with scalable capacity and the shortest inter-Gulf latency. This new partnership with Ciena will enable us to achieve all of this,” Al-Daylami added. 

Virginie Hollebecque, Managing Director for Western Europe and the Middle East, Cien, said: “Ciena is delighted to partner with Batelco on the Batelco Gulf Network, which will enhance communications and deliver world class networking services for customers, and position Bahrain as a regional leader and innovator in telecoms services.

“Ciena is committed to supporting Batelco through our extensive global experience and expertise, and comprehensive professional services in the region, to deliver highly secure and reliable connectivity to Batelco and its customers.”

Intelligent CIO spoke to Virginie Hollebecque, Managing Director for Western Europe and the Middle East, Ciena, to find out more about the project.

Virginie Hollebecque, Managing Director for Western Europe and the Middle East, Ciena

How far has the project positioned Bahrain as a regional leader and innovator in telecoms services?

The Kingdom of Bahrain is emerging as a regional leader in Digital Transformation as it has been an early adopter of reforms to support technology-driven businesses and empower them to drive the economy.

Batelco’s efforts are aligned with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and the Government Action Plan 2019-2022 in positioning Bahrain as a major hub for ICT and data movement.

Ciena is a global and a diversified company used to deal with mission critical traffic. Therefore, on a business perspective, we leverage our resources to facilitate Batelco extending its international market by providing the underlying packet optical technology for the Batelco Global Network (BGN).

This partnership has the main goal of ensuring scalability and reliability of our network platforms which is paramount for a successful project. 

Can you explain the nature of your partnership with Batelco?

Batelco has selected Ciena’s Converged Packet Optical Platform as the foundation for the Batelco Global Network (BGN). The BGN runs over a state-of-the-art optical transport network (OTN) to meet the demand for reliable and cost-effective high bandwidth connectivity and capacity for Batelco customers and international carriers’ wholesale needs.

Today, we are seeing an increasing bandwidth growth backed by the need for high quality software control and agile connectivity. Businesses rely on their network 24/7 and they are looking for an always-on, responsive and high-quality experience.

In addition, we also see a strong trend in telcos towards the adoption of Adaptive Network, which is a new approach that expands on autonomous networking concepts to transform the static network into a dynamic, programmable environment driven by analytics and intelligence. This is a network that can grow with a company as its business needs and markets change.

We are thrilled to have partnered with Batelco, as the backbone of BGN answers the growing demand of high-speed and low-latency connectivity solutions of the customers in Bahrain.

Can you explain how the project can ensure reliable connectivity to Batelco and its customers?

The BGN supports high bandwidths in order to meet the demand for reliable and cost-effective connectivity and capacity for Batelco customers and international carriers’ wholesale needs. The BGN cable system connects UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, KSA, Kuwait and beyond.

How long did the project take to implement and were there any particular challenges that needed to be overcome?

The project was completed in a record time and is live now carrying mission critical traffic for Batelco customers. Since Batelco needs and their customers’ needs are constantly changing, the network is designed in a way to support these needs with minimal disruption.   

Do you have any similar projects planned for the region?

Yes. We have similar projects in the region. Like many other parts of the world, the Middle East region has embraced the impact of digitisation and service providers are taking steps to create more reliable and adaptive networks that can cater to user demands for higher bandwidth services.

Ciena’s aim is to work with service providers in the region to enable a better-connected society; while creating opportunities for more and more people to join our thriving digital economy.  

How successfully does the optical transport network (OTN) meet Batelco’s demand for reliable and cost-effective high bandwidth connectivity and capacity?

OTN is a next-generation, industry-standard protocol that provides an efficient and globally accepted way to multiplex different services onto optical light paths.

To meet Batelco’s requirements, we understand it is paramount to quickly evolve to deal with an explosion of digital traffic driven by multimedia services, mobile applications, social media, VoIP and cloud computing.

Today, most network traffic is packet-based, generated by a multitude of services and applications in bursty, unpredictable traffic patterns, with widely varying and more stringent demands on bandwidth and data transmission performance.

Thus, OTN wraps each client payload transparently into a container for transport across optical networks, preserving the client’s native structure, timing information and management information. The enhanced multiplexing capability of OTN allows different traffic types- including Ethernet, storage and digital video, as well as SONET/SDH – to be carried over a single Optical Transport Unit frame.

OTN’s cost-effectiveness, ease of implementation and simplicity offer companies a straightforward, painless solution to evolving network needs.

In addition to scaling the network to 100G and beyond, OTN plays a key role in making the network an open and programmable platform, enabling transport to become as important as computing and storage in intelligent data centre networking.

Intelligent CIO spoke to Adel Al-Daylami, Chief Global Business Officer at Batelco, to ask further questions.

Adel Al-Daylami, Chief Global Business Officer at Batelco

What were the main reasons you decided to select Ciena’s Converged Packet Optical Platform as the foundation for the new Batelco Global Network?

We have selected Ciena’s Converged Packet Optical Platform as the foundation for the new BGN as it is a leader in providing future-proof technology to meet the growing demand of our customers. Furthermore, Ciena’s expertise enables us to achieve our vision and commitment in ensuring BGN is a reliable alternative to more vulnerable submarine cables, all with scalable capacity and the shortest inter-Gulf latency.

We strongly believe this partnership caters for the growing digital economy, which is underpinned by the efforts of the Kingdom of Bahrain and the GCC in the field of communications. Batelco’s comprehensive plans are designed to support the establishment of a robust national and international infrastructure.

We are committed to strengthening our delivery to contribute towards Bahrain’s presence as a major ICT hub, and we hope to build on this platform to ensure future success.

Has Batelco seen an increase in demand for high-speed connectivity services? If so, what are the reasons behind this?

Consumers and businesses across the GCC are consuming more OTT (Over-The-Top) content such as HD videos and services from local and international providers, driving demand for additional high-speed connectivity services.

Additionally, the Middle East telecom sector is witnessing an exponential growth of opportunities for operators to transform their revenue models through the introduction of new and innovative digital services related to data, content, OTT communications, IoT, 5G, eCommerce, mobile payments or managed services.

However, in order to create these new revenue streams, service providers need to build the platform on which they can deploy cutting-edge technologies with guaranteed speed, performance, reliability and scalability.

Can you explain the importance of the Batelco Global Network to Bahrain?

We are the leading digital solutions provider in the Kingdom of Bahrain with a commitment to enhance customer experience.

At Batelco we serve both the corporate and consumer markets through the delivery of cutting-edge fixed and wireless telecommunications solutions. Our comprehensive portfolio of solutions for the residential, business and government segments in Bahrain include all IP fixed and 4G LTE wireless Home Internet networks, 5G and MPLS based regional data solutions.

Batelco’s digitisation and connectivity goals are in line with those of the Kingdom of Bahrain to transform how businesses operate as well as transform the lives of residents, enabling everyone to connect, work and live better through the delivery of technology-based products and solutions.

With an on-going commitment to roll out Smart Home and Smart City digital solutions, Batelco is playing a crucial role in the Kingdom’s prosperity and development.

Why is the BGN a reliable alternative to more vulnerable submarine cables?

The BGN features alternative pathways for submerged underwater routes, and with the introduction of the protection enhancement, customers can enjoy high reliable worry-free solutions allowing them to run their operations smoothly and facilitating the introduction of new and innovative services.

What is the importance of having ‘the shortest inter-Gulf latency’?

Low latency, when coupled with reliable and scalable capacity, enables a myriad of new use cases, especially as applications are increasingly migrating to the cloud data centres, so having the lowest latency allows operators to differentiate their service offerings, while allowing end-users to benefit from and leverage the improved overall network performance.

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