UPGRADING FOR BETTER UPLOADING

Lebanon 2017 | TELECOMS & IT | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Imad Kreidieh, President & General Manager of Ogero, on fixed- and fiber-optic networks and the ongoing transformation of the IT industry in Lebanon.

Imad Kreidieh
BIOGRAPHY
An international business professional and inspirational leader with extensive board level experience, Ogero’s President and General Manager, Imad Kreidieh, is striving to establish a new era in Lebanese telecommunications. Having acquired specialized expertise in the development and implementation of highly effective strategies for several global mobile operators and institutions, Kreidieh has built a solid track history in leading businesses to remarkable revenue growth and expansion. Combining an entrepreneurial outlook, strong commercial skills, and visionary mindset, Kreidieh has taken on the mission of transforming his nation to the regional’s leading digital hub.

According to the Minister, 500,000 new landlines will be available soon that will enable Ogero to speed up the DSL connection all over Lebanon. How is this progressing?

What we are working on is much more transformational in nature. We called this the IMS Project because we are dismantling and decommissioning all the old technical switches that were put in place back in 1994 with limited capacity and capabilities in comparison to what we have today. This introduces the digital era of IP telephony. What we are doing is not only adding 500,000 landlines; rather, we are completely transforming the infrastructure of the fixed network into a groundbreaking platform that will allow us to welcome as many new subscribers as the market requires. Our short-term objective is to add an additional 500,000 subscribers in addition to the 1 million that we already have, and that would only be the first piece of the puzzle. Having an advanced digital environment starts with fixed-network assets, which is the IMS. Other pieces will also fall into place to establish the final, or at least the modern, infrastructure that we intend to have in Lebanon. The second phase is the fiber-to-cabinet solution, which will allow us to provide better connectivity to the end user in their homes.

The installation of fiber optics is part of the 2020 strategy launched in July 2015. According to that plan, what is the progress of this gradual installation of fiber-optic networks?

The first phase of the fiber optics plan was deployed before I joined Ogero, and it was dedicated to linking all of our 300 switches together through fiber optics. So far, we have deployed around 6,000km of fiber in the country. The second phase is to get closer to the subscriber by installing active cabinets. Those cabinets will position the end user closer to the switch, thus giving better access to high-speed internet. We are about to tender this project; the technical teams are putting together the documents as we speak, as well as planning the deployment of several thousand cabinets across the nation.

How has Ogero contributed to the development of the country over the years?

Ogero is the major infrastructure provider for Lebanon, but my team and I are constantly striving to upgrade the capabilities of our network so that the private sector can take part in infrastructure improvement, providing capacity, high-speed internet, and a resilient, stable, secure, fit-for-purpose network. We are a vital transforming force in the Lebanese economy. Many entrepreneurs are moving out of the country due to the lack of proper infrastructure. Connectivity has become essential for every start-up and every business that seeks growth. Our objective is to cater such services for all stakeholders to grow within their homeland and benefit its economy.

What are Ogero's priorities for the year ahead?

We have a plan in place that will allow us to catch up with the leading economies in the region in terms of technology and telecommunications. Our main objective is to provide nationwide high-speed internet. The next milestone consists of providing heavy internet users (universities, hospitals, specialized schools, public entities, big enterprises, and so on) with fiber connectivity characterized by high capacity and bandwidth. We are also looking into expanding our data center and cloud computing capabilities to create a national cloud for Lebanon. Our proof of concept will take us to a new level of service, specifically for the ministries and the public sector. Once this proof of concept is solid, we will move to a private cloud while trying to get the framework to establish a regional cloud. With this plan in mind, we aim to establish a long-lasting strategy that can be sustained through different administrations. We have received the buy-in of all concerned entities, including previous ministers and the current government, to turn this sector into a success story.