5G is on its way soon, Fibre optic internet connections to expand, internet access upgrades coming to all 450 schools in Cyprus – these are all improvements underway for Cyprus telecommunications.
The entire Cyprus network is seeing a digital transformation; Cyta CEO Andreas Neocleous tells us about the latest developments.
CM: One still hears complaints from businesspeople in Cyprus about telecommunications infrastructure. They say that networking with other countries is still too slow?
Neocleous: There is some latency in international internet connectivity, which is the time it takes for data to travel from Cyprus to its final destination. Latency improvement is limited by physics, due to the long distance between Cyprus and western Europe where the closest major internet hubs are located.
To reduce it, we have recently established direct connections to major European hubs (i.e. London, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Moscow, Marseilles, Athens) via the extensive submarine optical fiber cable network of Cyta. We are currently seeking to connect to additional hubs, to further reduce latency and offer the best possible experience to our customers.
CM: When can we expect 5G? Will Huawei be involved?
Neocleous: The 5G pilot network was installed in the beginning of 2019 for testing the capabilities of the new technology and also for training and familiarizing Cyta engineers with 5G. It served its purpose as planned and since the end of the year it was switched off, awaiting the completion of the 5G licencing process by the government (editor’s note: – this is scheduled for the end of 2020).
Following this, the network deployment will commence, leading to the introduction of new exciting commercial offerings to our customers. We are planning a fast track deployment approach in order to cover the whole of Cyprus as soon as possible.
The new technology requires high levels of security. In an effort to safeguard security, EU has specifically designed a toolbox of directions and good practices on the matter, which has been introduced in Cyprus by the Digital Security Authority. Cyta intends to implement all security measures that the DSA will require.
For example, it is suggested that providers avoid collaboration with just a single partner, a directive which has been Cyta’s approach for many years now. Huawei is a partner to many European telecom companies, and a partner of Cyta in the deployment of the network, but it is definitely not the only partner.
CM: Our daily lives, at work or at home, depend ever more on the internet and applications that need higher speeds. How is Cyta addressing these needs?
Neocleous: As a country, we need to embrace high-end telecommunications, not only to support the existing business sectors, but, most and foremost, to aid the evolution of sectors like education, medicine, shipping, agriculture and so many others. We need to be attuned to the technological developments in order to manage current issues and be able to explore the new opportunities that arise. We need technology to help us simplify procedures, in order to become more friendly to foreign investment, a necessity for our prospects of development.
Cyta has been preparing for this and is now in the process of rolling out its Fiber to the Home network: the fastest and largest fiber optic network in Cyprus, expected to reach more than 200.000 premises within the next two years and offering speeds that can surpass 1Gbps. Our new network will support the digital transformation of Cyprus, confirming the strategic importance it has for the digitalisation of our country, its economic development and future.
CM: The submarine cable network has been under development for some time. What is its status and how will it help Cyprus to become more competitive?
Neocleous: Cyprus’s extensive connectivity with the world is only possible because of Cyta’s vast network of submarine cables which land in Cyprus. In order to improve this connectivity, we recently signed a deal to participate in the new PEACE cable that connects Asia, Africa and Europe, increasing significantly the available capacity.
In this way, we will add new routes and more capacity to our already extensive east-to-west submarine cable network supporting uninterrupted access to new markets. At the same time, it will help us improve the services we offer to the local market, as well as to other telecom providers in the region.
CM: I understand that Cyta is involved in developing e-learning? How is that progressing?
Education was one of the sectors greatly affected by the pandemic and it has a lot to gain from the new Cyta Fiber high-speed network. The sector was forced to reinvent itself almost overnight and in doing so, it was presented with an excellent opportunity for an in-depth transformation. This comes with the pre-requisite of a safe, fast and reliable internet connection. Cyta Fiber offers exactly that.
Cyta is currently upgrading the internet access of all 450 schools in Cyprus, to a faster and more secure service. The upgrade is of utmost importance to secure uninterrupted and simultaneous use of the internet by thousands of students during distance-learning. The project will be completed by the end of November 2020.
CM: Are there new services under development by Cyta?
We are currently working on some very exciting new offerings for 2020, which are planned for launching in the coming weeks, mostly regarding the new Cyta Fiber services which include internet speeds up to 1Gbps. In 2021, my guess is that we will not be focusing too much on new services, but rather on transforming the experience of our customers to levels not seen before in Cyprus. Creating emotional connections with our customers and rewarding their loyalty is going to be the name of the game.