It highlights the experiences and lessons learnt in the different countries and concludes with some technical future plans and recommendations for a strucutred regional information highway.
This data communication infrastructure is very heterogeneous in the Arab Region. To present this infrastructure in an overview we will divide the Arab region in subregion and take one or two representative countries from each subregion.
The North African Region will be represented by Marocco and Tunisia, while the central Arab region has Egypt, Jordan and Syria. The Gulf area will be represented by U.A.E. and Saudi Arabia. These countries can be considered ready for Information highway activities.
The dial-up data communication connectivity is available with satisfactory performance in all the above mentioned countries. The infrastructure in this aspect varies from most up to date technology in UAE with complete digital facilities to less developed facilities in the rest of the countries. The PSTN is highly used for data communication in some countries while in other countries a PDN is also available. The PDN has the best data communication services with ISDN, frame relay and X.25 services. Other countries like Egypt, Tunisia, Marocco, Saudi Arabia and Syria do also have X.25 networks with variable speeds from 9.6kb/sec to 64 kb/sec. They do all have international access with digitial submarine and satellite channels with speeds up to E1 to Europe and the states. The conlusion is that the data communication infrastrucuture has suitable facilities to start national information highways in the different countries. There is a need like in Egypt, Syria and Jordan that the data communication facilities should cover a wider range of their territories. The intercountry data communication infrastructure needs to be upgraded as well. SEMEWE-2 optical fibre cable is already a good support in that direction to link the Central Arab Region with the Gulf Area. More efforts should be done for higher speed connectivity between the Central Arab region and North Africa.
For the infostructure this paragraph highlights the main information services in the above mentioned countries. A special focus will be put on the Internet services. Egypt is providing a number of value added information services in the area of S&T, Education, Trade as well as Internet services. The full Internet services with email, gopher, and WWW servers are available in the academic, governmental and commercial sector in Egypt in the Egyptian Universities Network and IDSC/RITSEC. Tunisia has also full Internet services in the academic sector with gopher and WWW servers via RNRT. Kuwait, Algeria and Marocco have also operational Internet domains with email services. Common problems which faced the different countries in the region while introducing the Internet services can be summarized as follows: