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Cisco Urges Mideast Telcos to Become Multiservice Providers

Cisco Systems urged Middle East telecommunications operators to invest in integrated multiservice data and voice networks to limit the impact of falling oil revenues, economic slowdown and increasing international competition in the region.

According to Cisco, the most significant change for telecommunications companies could be economic not technical.

"Operators and carriers that use their existing investment in wide area networks for both telephone subscribers and data service subscribers will change the telecommunications service model as we know it today," said Ghazi Atallah, Cisco Systems regional manager for Saudi Arabia.

Addressing delegates at the Arab International Telecommunications Conference in Beirut, which ran between 11 to 12 February, Atallah warned of a new breed of communications service provider that uses an integrated multiservice network infrastructure to offer a variety of data and voice services at highly competitive prices.

Atallah added that multiservice companies will make it difficult for traditional telco operators to compete in an increasingly integrated services market.

Atallah stated that communications in North America had already reached a watershed, where the total volume of voice (telephone) traffic has now been exceeded by the total volume of data traffic being passed from computer to computer over telephone lines, wide area networks and the Internet.

This is a trend, he added, that will be seen the world over as business, government and consumers become increasingly reliant on data networks such as the Internet and the new services that these networks deliver.

Atallah called on Middle East operators to integrate these new systems with existing infrastructure to build the skills, experience and knowledge they need to remain competitive.