(MENAFN - Jordan Times) The delay in completing the country's fibre optic network project is holding back the introduction of IT tools in healthcare and education, experts said on Wednesday.
According to sources in the telecoms sector, the project, work on which was halted in 2008 due to a lack of funding after the global economic crisis hit Jordan's economy, is crucial for implementing e-government services, connecting the country's hospitals and medical centres to provide telemedicine (health services provided over long distances using IT tools), and introducing e-curricula in the country's schools.
"The fibre optic network is the sole solution for Jordan to be able to move ahead with its plans to introduce telemedicine and e-curricula in schools," Mohammad Monir Ghannam, CEO of the Internet service provider DAMAMAX, told The Jordan Times Wednesday.
"Jordan will not be able to introduce high and reliable e-services in the education, health, banking or government sectors without high-speed Internet that is provided by the fibre optic network," Ghannam said Wednesday on the sidelines of the 9th Convergence Summit.
"A fibre optic network is the best technology for e-services and the government should allow the private sector to build this network," he said on the final day of the conference.
In April, the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology called on mobile operators and Internet service providers to apply to be partners in a projected company that would complete the National Broadband Network.
The country's three mobile operators have already shown interest in the project, but no progress has been made yet in creating the company, a source at the ministry said in a recent interview with The Jordan Times.
Work on the project, which entails creating a fibre optic network and preparing the infrastructure necessary for broadband, started in 2003 with the aim of connecting all public schools and universities to the network. In 2007, the project was expanded to include government agencies, healthcare centres and hospitals.
According to the ICT ministry, about 35 per cent of the project has been completed so far, at a total cost of 36 million.
Mohammad Alawneh, enterprise and data solutions manager at Umniah, agreed with Ghannam that completing the network was essential.
"Fibre optics is the key to providing e-services in different sectors. But it is expensive," he said.
Covering Amman with a fibre optic network will cost about 1 billion, Alawneh told The Jordan Times at the summit.
"There is a need for partnerships between the public and private sectors to complete network," he said.
"The government should give financial incentives for the private sector and improve legislation to empower the private sector to implement the project. Usually, government policies change with the change of officials and this causes instability. The best way to complete the project is through the private sector," Ghannam said.
The summit, held by the Arab Advisers Group, attracted 514 senior executives representing 200 regional and global telecom, media and technology companies.