The big news in Qatar today was the announcement from ictQATAR that the government is stepping up to build a national broadband network in the country. A new company – the Qatar National Broadband Network Company – will be tasked with accelerating the current rollout of fiber-to-home, with a goal of at least 95% coverage by 2015. Awesome. All it takes is a trip to just about any other country in the world to know that our Internet is super slow here – heck, I was getting faster Internet while traveling in Cambodia. It’s certainly time we caught up – and hopefully move to the front in terms of access and speed.
Building the network is important, but more important for the development of Qatar is how it is used. Qatar certainly has the resources to build the best, but something money can’t buy is creativity and innovation – although it certainly doesn’t hurt (unless it makes people complacent)!
What I am most excited about with this announcement is the potential for advancements in digital content – everything from HD videos to government data, virtual town halls to educational resources. A high speed broadband network enables people to develop multimedia solutions, interact instantly and collaborate in ways that our current level of connection make cumbersome. In that critical learning moment, will students still pay attention as the spinning wheel on YouTube tells you the video is coming? Or more importantly, will a doctor really be able to wait as huge x-ray images are being sent for a patient arriving in an ambulance? High speed matters and can change outcomes.
These are things available right now, but access to high speed broadband expands what is possible –especially when you are accessing it anywhere, anytime on your mobile or tablet. Businesses can discover new opportunities, governments can actually engage, cities can be smarter and individuals will discover new life paths they never knew existed. Sound too idealistic? Maybe, but I truly believe that if Qatar wants to move to being a knowledge economy, access to a high speed broadband network is a fundamental. Now the government is stepping up to make that reality, so why not be a bit idealistic? I am confident the creative people in Qatar will take full advantage.
I’m interested to hear your expectations for the Qatar National Broadband Network and what it means for you. Will this help Qatar become a leader in exporting knowledge, or will we just be consumers of content (albeit at much faster speeds)?