Lebanon has already started installing fiber optics in big cities, and 85 percent of the Lebanese population will have access to the service by the end of 2017, Telecoms Minister Boutros Harb said.
“All advanced countries rely on fiber optics to have access to the internet, and while the service is already available in Lebanon, the country will be fully covered by the end of 2020,” the minister said at a conference Thursday. His comments came during a conference at the American University of Beirut on the importance of having integrated Arab electronic infrastructure.
Harb said the current installation of fiber optics is part of the 2020 strategy he launched in July last year. According to that plan, fiber-optic networks will be gradually installed over five years, and the country totally connected by fiber by 2020.
Amer Tabsh, an expert in the field, told The Daily Star that fiber optics have already been installed between the main centers in different areas of Lebanon, but still need to be connected to big enterprises and houses. “Right now we are in the process of connecting fiber optics to houses and big enterprises,” he said.
Tabsh explained that households are currently connected to the internet via copper cables that have limited capacity when it comes to data transfer and speed. “Also, too many copper cables are needed to connect a big number of houses to the internet, while with fiber optics, we only need half the quantity of cables to be connected to the same number of houses,” he added.
Tabsh noted that while copper cables have the capacity to provide users with a maximum internet speed of 8 megabytes per second, fiber optics can provide households with an average of 100 megabytes per second.
Harb said in his speech that the 2020 strategy also aims at providing Lebanon with 4G services. “We are expecting full coverage with 4G services in Lebanon by the end of 2016,” he said. He added that the Telecoms Ministry had succeeded in improving fixed and mobile phone networks in Lebanon while increasing internet speeds.
“We have also succeeded in increasing the revenues of the Telecoms Ministry while reducing the prices of telecom services by 70 percent,” the minister said.
Talal Abu-Ghazaleh, president of the Arab Organization for Quality Assurance in Education, said that his group would continue working on improving information technology in the Arab region. Abu-Ghazaleh also added that his organization will work hard on strengthening exchange among Arab countries in a bid to create an integrated Arab IT infrastructure.
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