Apr. 19, 2016


Ahmed Salman Ali Al-Sulaiti,

Qatar

Ahmed Salman Ali Al-Sulaiti,

CEO, Qatar National Broadband Network (QNBN)

TBY talks to Ahmed Salman Ali Al-Sulaiti, CEO of Qatar National Broadband Network (QNBN), on supporting the country's growth, facilitating a competitive investment environment, and working toward a long-term vision of the future.

BIO

Ahmed Salman Ali Al-Sulaiti is the CEO of QNBN. He comes from a strong leadership and technical background, stemming from extensive industry experience and a PhD with a dissertation in Project Empowerments for Qatar National Vision 2030 (QNV2030). He has also successfully completed a double MBA and Business Research from Swiss Business School, and a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical (Telecommunication) Engineering from Qatar University. He was previously Head of the Improvement Department at Qatar General Electricity and Water Corporation, where during his 12-year tenure he played a key leadership role in implementing the biggest nationwide fiber optic network.

How have QNBN's operations benefited Qatar?

Network infrastructure improvements undertaken by QNBN amount to an estimated 0.023% annual contribution to GDP. Secondly, QNBN's support of operators in both the fixed and broadband rollout has helped create an environment of competition in quality and services, resulting in a direct benefit to the people of Qatar. They can now enjoy great services and offers from their choice of operator at affordable rates – something that was not available prior to QNBN. While contribution to GDP, consumer choice, improved quality, better service, open-market competition, and affordable rates are all priceless benefits for Qatar, the greatest contribution of QNBN has been in eliminating network duplication and enhancing network security systems, resulting in direct savings for the State of Qatar.

How important is developing world-class ICT infrastructure to facilitating the overall investment climate of Qatar?

One of the most important aspects of government income is opening the business sector prior to the 2022 FIFA World Cup. There will be a lot of companies that open their business in Qatar before 2022, and they want to see evidence of sustainability for their businesses beyond 2022. Making Qatar a hub for business after the event is extremely crucial, and is the foundation of the four pillars of Qatar National Vision 2030. A strong ICT infrastructure is as indispensable for future economic growth as roads, electricity, and water. No nation will be able to sustain economic development without a solid ICT infrastructure, which is why World Bank and ITU reference economic growth with Internet penetration and broadband KPIs. A secure network is extremely important in today's highly volatile and competitive business environment, and QNBN aims to extend this network to the government and enterprises as well. Within 2-3 years, high-speed internet connection will become the fabric of our educational institutions, healthcare, businesses, government ministries, and homes. Nobody will be able to access healthcare services without high-speed internet. Internet will become a necessity. It is inconceivable to start a business without road infrastructure, water, and electricity. Similarly, no economy will be able to flourish without reliable, secure, and affordable broadband networks. China subsidizes electricity to boost its manufacturing economy, agricultural economies depend on government's water management, and timely investment in the ICT infrastructure and broadband backbone is crucial for knowledge-based economies, as outlined by the QNV2030. We are working to improve the quality of life of our people by providing this infrastructure, and we are looking to provide this to each home in order to ensure quality of life for the future; each home should have electricity, water, and high-speed internet.

What is the relevance of the fiber-optic team that is being formed to the overall planning?

In light of the fiber-optic budget requirements as listed by the utilities and ministries, key subject matter experts were invited to a high-level optimization initiative where they presented the duplication of investment and cost savings opportunities to the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister mandated a study to explore and finalize government requirements for fiber infrastructure, and to take the initiative to avoid the duplication and overlapping of infrastructure. I am on that team, nominated from the ICT sector to talk not only about QNBN, but also ICT infrastructure in general. The outcome of the study identified that all duplications can be avoided by dedicating the fiber optic rollout to a non-commercial state-owned company with a mandate to provide single infrastructure and related services under the specifications and security needed to avoid any inter-departmental government duplication at a better value than a commercial enterprise. Due to the criticality of the projects and high security requirements, it was recommended that QNBN provide fiber-optic secure infrastructure that is isolated from commercial traffic for the government network, as well as the networks for transportation, and the secure network needed for the 2022 FIFA World Cup and any other future events of national importance.

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