LTE wins favour in Middle East

It’s just coming up to six am in Doha airport, Qatar, on Wednesday morning, with this member of the team part way through the trek back to the UK from China, via Qatar and Turkey. So it seems strangely fitting that local carrier Qatar Telecom (Qtel) should pick today to unveil its preparations for the move to LTE.

Qtel has tapped Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) to modernize its infrastructure and add more capacity to its mobile network. Under the deal NSN has supplied its RAN equipment, including its Flexi Multiradio Base Stations and all IP backhaul technology, allowing Qtel to roll out HSPA+, and in the future, LTE.

NSN operates Qtel’s network under an existing managed services contract.

In other Middle Eastern news, Saudi Arabian operator STC said it has contracted Chinese vendor Huawei to deploy what it claims is the Middle East’s largest pre-commercial LTE network in Saudi Arabia.

The first phase of the project has already been delivered, offering peak downlink data rates of up to 100Mbps per user with commercial LTE data cards in the field. The pre-commercial LTE network is expected to complete its roll out by the end of 2010, covering major metropolitan areas such as Riyadh and Dammam.

As part of the deal, Huawei has deployed its IP microwave products from its RTN900 series into STC’s LTE backhaul. Ying Weimin, president of the LTE product line at Huawei, said: “Huawei projects data services will increase 500 to 1000 times in the next decade. With surging demand for data applications, the entire industry is facing the significant challenge of how to effectively deploy and operate a profitable mobile broadband network.”

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