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Thu 30 Nov 2006 04:00 PM

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Glorious GITEX

Beyond the glitz and glamour of the consumer electronics exhibitors, GITEX and GULFCOMMS had some serious networking muscle on show. NME presents a roundup of the highlights.

GITEX has come and gone for another year, and 2006 was a bumper edition for networking specialists. Between GITEX and GULFCOMMS, networking and telecoms vendors were one of the most dominant groups at the show, highlighting the importance of the sector to the region.

Networking exhibitors dominated the far halls of the trade centre – Hall 1 and the new Zabeel Hall – and as a result enjoyed a ‘filtering’ of the visitors, with only dedicated individuals making it to the end of the concourse. Many exhibitors found a much higher proportion of visitors were networking professionals, rather than members of the public.

“We’ve definitely been impressed by the quality of the visitors coming to our stand, and it’s a great opportunity to promote our local offices,” says Mark Mullins, EMEA marketing manager for Fluke Networks. Fluke was showing off its advanced range of network analysis and diagnostic equipment, systems which go down well with show visitors keen to handle the products.

Fluke’s OptiView and EtherScope devices use advanced touchscreen technology, allowing network engineers to diagnose problems with an intuitive graphical interface. “Even some non-experts can pick up the products and start using them,” he says.

The extra space dedicated to networking companies meant GITEX debuts for a number of names, including Netgear, Ortronics, Efonica, Mayflex and Secure Computing. The latter is a new entrant into the Middle East, having just hired a new regional team headed up by the indomitable Ray Kafity.

GITEX saw the presence of Secure Computing’s chief technology officer Dr Paul Q Judge, backing up the regional team with heavyweight technical insight. “GITEX is impressive, and I’m excited about the level of opportunity in this region,” says Judge. Secure Computing has made a number of important acquisitions lately, and is positioning itself to take on some big names in IT security.

Technology-wise, GITEX saw the flowering of VoIP providers, and an increasing reluctance to take regional regulation of the technology lying down. Firms such as Belkin, Genusys and US Robotics all talked up the technology, and went on record to say the ban in countries such as the UAE would not last. Elsewhere in the region, VoIP is enjoying great success, with deployments increasing by the day.

A firm keen to increase awareness of IP telephony was Efonica – it hit on the innovative notion of offering scratchcards to visitors, with prizes including free credit for the Efonica service on offer. Roger Karam, CEO of Efonica, says the cards proved extremely popular: “We distributed leaflets throughout the show, so we had a lot of traffic come to our stand specifically because of the cards.”

Another big debut at GULFCOMMS was Nokia. Although the fi rm has appeared alongside its partners in the past, 2006 was the first time the phone and infrastructure giant exhibited under its own steam. A major focus was Nokia’s array of handsets, but enterprise and SP products were also on show.

We’ve definitely been impressed by the quality of the visitors coming to our stand over the show.

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