The technology and communications sector in Cyprus has become fiercely competitive, with a number of players deploying cutting-edge solutions to both increase their local market share and generate growth through the launch of new technology and products.
Cyprus has successfully capitalised on its location at the crossroads of Europe, Asia and Africa, and has historically served as a convenient regional communications base of strategic importance. It has a fully digital network with reliable high-speed international connectivity via eight fibre-optic submarine cables, including the world’s longest optical submarine telecommunications cable, SEA-MEWE-3, which links directly with South East Asia, the Middle East and the rest of Western Europe. Cyprus also has dedicated fibre links to major international Points of Presence and Connectivity, ensuring it has all the right connections in place.
Launch Pad for Satellite Services
An extensive and growing satellite network, as well as teleport sites and major satellite earth stations, supplement the country’s efficient fibre-optic connections and provide integrated hybrid solutions for a reliable 24/7 connection around the world. Investments of companies in this sector have reached over €300 million in the last six years, proving there is healthy appetite in satellite solutions. In fact, the island’s climate and geographical location offer optimal conditions for satellite communications as well as access to the geostationary arc from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean – and being in the most south-eastern part of Europe, Cyprus can also ‘see’ satellites located above Asia and Australia and gather data where other European ground stations have no communication.
A key player in the fibre-optic cable and satellite networks is Cytaglobal, which is a semi-autonomous Strategic Business Unit under state-owned operator Cyta, and specialises in providing global electronic communication products and services. rough its global network, Cytaglobal also provides a wide range of international telecommunications products.
Cyprus has been gaining ground in the field of space-tech services and has so far granted 10 licences to organisations to launch telecommunication satellites using space that Cyprus has secured through the UN International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Granted ITU rights do not concern areas in space only above the country, but anywhere and to date Cyprus has obtained 40 areas. The number of licences Cyprus has granted is also significant, as many countries in the world have issued only one license. In this respect, Cyprus is forging ahead others in this industry. The country has an annual economic bene t of €1 million from these services, which is expected to multiply after the launch of new satellites. is type of activity also boosts the prestige of Cyprus as a country engaged in space technology services, and its strategic advantages are increasingly promoted in a bid to attract infrastructure to Cyprus from the European Space Agency.
The growing sector has also inspired new ventures on the academic front, such as the new Eratothenis Excellence Centre, created by the Cyprus University of Technology in January 2018, to conduct research into space technologies. Its Excelsior project envisions the creation of some 200 new jobs and the placement of Cyprus on the international research and innovation map for space technologies – a move that will bene t the entire region. A Cyprus Astronomy and Space Academy was also inaugurated in 2017 in Nicosia, supported by the government, which has stepped up its game in the past two years by taking steps to give the country a higher profile in the European space industry.
Broadband and Mobile
Fixed broadband coverage is provided universally, and in 2016, the government announced the Cyprus Broadband Plan 2016-2020 which aims to see 100% coverage, and speeds of at least 100Mbps by 2020. Competition among various cable and DSL operators has resulted in a good offering of high-speed and cost-effective broadband access services throughout the island. State-owned operator Cyta continues to dominate the market offering a full range of telecommunications services. There have been moves to privatise the operator in the last few years, but so far these efforts have witnessed strong resistance from powerful unions and political opposition. Declining profits and the privatisation dispute have placed some uncertainty on the future of Cyta who has seen other operators bite into its market share. In 2016 Cyta’s profits fell by almost 50% compared to the previous year, and its market share for mobile telephony shrunk to 54% in 2017, from a healthy 73% in 2011.
Other key players with a prominent role in the telecoms landscape are Primetel, Cablenet and MTN, whose operations were bought by Monaco Telecom S.A. for €260 million in July 2018. South African MTN, who launched in Cyprus over a decade ago, saw its market share increase to 35% in 2017 at the expense of Cyta and as part of the deal will allow the Monegasque company to use its brand for three years.
5G and Fibre Optics
Cyprus also boasts some of the most cost-effective call rates within the EU, and mobile operators offer high-speed 4G broadband mobile access technology and are constantly updating and evolving their networks, as well as investing in new technologies. In 2017, MTN announced a €23 million investment in expanding its 3G/4G systems and fibre-optic networks. In 2017, the government signed an MoU with Israel to reduce roaming charges in both countries. Possible cooperation on 5G technology and fibre-optic communications were also on the table as future possibilities. In addition, Cyprus has secured a significant amount from EU structural funds for the deployment of step-change technology, for the roll-out of Fibre-To-The-Home (FTTH) networks. By 2020, FTTH networks are expected to extend to every private residence.
Preparing for the Future
Global demand for bandwidth is growing at an incredible 40% per year, with key drivers being the increase in cloud computing, data transfer and storage, as well as the Internet of Things (IoT). As more data and applications are allocated to the cloud, global cloud IP traffic is expected to quadruple by 2019, according to Cisco’s ‘Global Cloud Index: Forecast and Methodology 2014-2019’. Also, global data centre IP traffic is set to grow threefold over the next four years, as more companies begin utilising data centres to cut costs and streamline work flows. This in turn will increase the demand on networks to ensure seamless and secure transfers between data centres and business locations. As an international services hub it is crucial for Cyprus to stay ahead of the game and keep up with cutting-edge technology to support its thriving business environment. However, its strategic geographical location, established framework for technology and research initiatives, and skilled workforce are all set to ensure Cyprus is prepared to face the future.
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