STEM newsletter

ITU-BDT planning workshop for the Arab region

30 July 2006

The STEM visual software for the reliable modelling of business featured prominently in a two-week training event, which took place 16–27 July 2006 at the National Telecommunications Institute in Cairo, and was organised by the Telecommunication Development Bureau of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU-BDT).

As the first event of its kind, the ambitious Regional Network Planning Workshop with Tool Case Studies for the Arab Region provided a broad introduction to the principles and preferred methodologies for telecoms business and network planning, combined with hands-on experience with leading commercial tools provided by ITU partners.

Ambition for excellence in business and network planning

Network architectures are changing to meet the requirements of new services and applications. Next-generation equipment (such as soft switches or session controllers) and a new call/data traffic mix will be introduced. Different solutions may be considered for a smooth transition from existing network infrastructures, and the merits of each must be assessed using a portfolio of the powerful and modern tools available on the market today which can take proper account of the market, technical and regulatory environment. Furthermore, as the range of available technologies continues to grow, so increases the importance of careful planning and the analysis of alternatives in order to assure the required network capacities and associated quality of service, and understand the required investment.

The Cairo workshop was arranged for network planners and managers from telecoms operators, policy makers and regulators of developing countries and countries with economies in transition in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Through a number of case studies, the principles and preferred methodologies for telecoms business and network planning were introduced, followed by several days’ training on each of the network and business-planning software tools provided by established partners of the ITU.

Intensive programme of presentations and hands-on training

Day Topic
1 ITU-BDT activities on business and network planning
Role of planning in the current network architecture scenario
2 Introduction to supporting business and network-planning tools
3–4 STEM visual software for the reliable modelling of business
5–6 Planning tools for radio networks (LS Telcom/Spectrocan)
7–8 Planning tools for fixed networks (VPIsystems)
9–10 More detailed case studies on tools of participants’ choice

Simplified event programme

The event was attended by approximately 40 delegates from countries throughout the Arab region, including Algeria, Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Mauritania, Oman, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, UAE and Yemen. Some of the training sessions were run in two parallel tracks to keep the class sizes manageable.

A brand new series of STEM modelling exercises was created for the event, framed around a simplified business-case comparison of WiMAX and DSL for the provision of broadband service in rural areas. In anticipation of the participants’ widely varying knowledge and skills, the exercises used an existing model with immediate results as a vehicle for learning basic telecoms business-planning concepts, as well as a platform for adding various model refinements in later exercises. Both STEM courses were run back-to-back by Robin Bailey, with support and helpful industry insight from ITU expert, Mr Oscar Gonzalez Soto.

Structure of STEM business-case comparison of WiMAX and DSL for rural areas

This WiMAX-DSL model was first presented at the earlier ITU-BDT Regional Seminar on Mobile and Fixed Wireless Access for Broadband Applications for the Arab Region , 19–22 June 2006. The new exercises were very well received by the Cairo delegates and will be offered to all STEM customers, from the next open training session , 14–19 September, immediately before the STEM User Group Meeting, 20–21 September in Cambridge, UK.

Future co-operation

The ITU-BDT is developing partnerships with the vendors of professional network planning tools to support its missions promoting best-practice planning techniques in developing countries. Together with ITU-BDT, we have negotiated a co-operative agreement that will add the STEM visual software for reliable modelling of business to a roster of network planning tools to be used for training purposes and to be presented during official ITU-BDT workshops, seminars and training courses.

Through specific cooperative agreements, ITU experts plan to model high-level business cases for 3G mobile and next-generation networks (NGN) to help the governments and newly-formed regulators of developing nations assess the market potential of their nascent telecoms sectors. It is also expected that some of these organisations, and operators in the same territories, will want to develop such activities working directly with the tool vendors, who all provide vital consultancy services to ensure that these sophisticated tools are properly applied and will help their users make the correct strategic choices for their future network businesses.

The National Telecommunications Institute (NTI) has taken the lead in training Egyptian engineers on the planning, deployment and maintenance of a modernised telecommunications infrastructure for Egypt and will help implement the objectives and components of Egypt’s Information Society Initiative. NTI empowers the Egyptian ICT industry through the transfer of know-how from leading technology providers to its professional training programs and supports concurrent development in the Arab and African regions as a regional Centre of Excellence for consultation and training in ICT.

The three sectors of the International Telecommunication Union – Radiocommunication (ITU-R), Telecommunication Standardization (ITU-T), and Telecommunication Development (ITU-D) – work today to build and shape tomorrow’s networks and services: setting standards that facilitate seamless interworking of equipment and systems, adopting operational procedures for wireless services, and designing programmes to improve telecommunication infrastructure in the developing world.

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