BEIRUT - Ogero
relaunched its national internet strategy Tuesday, while also unveiling a branding overhaul for the state-run telecommunications company. Speaking at the event at the Grand Serail, Prime Minister Saad Hariri called for Lebanon to introduce faster internet speeds in order for it to compete in what he said was “the era of technology.”
“We are at a time where everything is tied to technology ... because it creates job opportunities for people of all ages, and [fast internet] is something we need to achieve,” he said.
An updated strategy was presented, slightly modified from the version first announced on Nov. 25, 2017, by Ogero
boss Imad Kreidieh.
Several deadlines have slipped in the latest version of the strategy.
Wireless coverage for rural areas is now slated to be complete in June 2018 instead of December 2017. A voice equipment upgrade was pushed back a year to the end of 2018.
The national fiber optic plan – the most anticipated part of the strategy – is now slated to finish in the fourth quarter of 2020 instead of the third quarter of 2019.
That delay may be due to scheduled appropriations in the 2017 state budget, passed late last year. It appropriated LL150 billion ($100 million) for the fiber optic project in 2017, and envisioned another LL150 billion in capital investment in 2018, LL75 billion in 2019 and LL75 billion in 2020.
A tender for the deployment of a fiber optic network was launched last year. It closed in January, but no results have been announced.
Not all the updates to the strategy were negative. Ogero
now expects to finish its public Wi-Fi program by the end of 2018 – more than two years early.
Hariri said Ogero’s work was essential for Lebanon and called for a “record speed in internet, and this service should not be interrupted.”
“Today, in this government, [Telecommunications] Minister Jamal Jarrah and Mr. Imad Kreidieh and the entire team work day and night to ensure [investment]. I congratulate you on what you are doing and hope to see Lebanon, God willing, at the forefront ... in this area soon,” he added.
Jarrah also spoke at the event, saying that negotiations with Cyprus over a new undersea internet cable had begun and that the “reform process at Ogero is continuing.”
Increasing Lebanon’s international capacity is a new prong in Ogero’s overarching strategy.
Ultimately, Kreidieh wants 85 percent of Lebanon’s population to enjoy internet speeds above 50 Mbps – more than 10 times faster than many connections today.
In a statement Ogero said: “In line with the vision of President Michel Aoun and the government’s mission to ‘rebuild confidence,’ headed by Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who promised to implement a revolutionary plan for telecommunication in Lebanon, here is Ogero achieving that promise and working with great seriousness, professionalism and transparency to achieve it.”
The statement also pointed to the company’s new branding: “Ogero’s new brand was designed with a modern font, to enhance the focus on Ogero as a center of gravity and the force that keeps everyone in contact.”
Slick new video spots from the company urge Lebanese citizens not to give up on the company’s promises. “Connect, and change will come,” the narrator says.
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