Middle East operators jump on LTE bandwagon

Following launches in Saudi from Mobily and STC, and in the UAE from Etisalat, Qatar’s QTel has launched its own LTE services and UAE’s Du has announced that it is working on an LTE service to launch before the end of the year.

Qtel will deploy nearly 900 base stations across the country, and the service will be offered immediately. The programme will provide ongoing improvements to mobile broadband internet services for customers in 4G coverage areas, and offer potential download speeds of as much as 150Mbps on mobile phones and devices, the company said.

“Qtel continues to invest in the Broadband Qatar strategy, which aims to provide one of the fastest, most reliable broadband networks in the world to the people of Qatar,” said Waleed Al Sayed, COO at Qtel.

“Following a comprehensive study of LTE technology, we are now positioned to build the largest 4G network in Qatar, offering the fastest speeds and most comprehensive coverage.”

He added that Qtel successfully carried out a test phase for the technology with two potential vendors in July and the firm has received assurances that a full range of devices will be launched in Qatar over the next year.

During the roll-out, 4G coverage will be provided as an option in a growing number of areas in Qatar, starting with highly populated urban areas such as Doha and expanding across the country. Qtel will work with a number of leading vendors to ensure that devices capable of using 4G technology are available for the people of Qatar at affordable prices.

To support the service, Qtel will offer wifi offloading, so that customers using wireless internet will be able to switch seamlessly to Wi-Fi hotspots during periods of peak demand.

In addition, the company is already working with businesses and educational institutions to ensure that all sectors of the community are able to benefit from the enhanced speed and reliability of LTE technology, as part of the Broadband Qatar strategy. Studies show that Broadband roll-outs can make a direct impact to gross domestic product (GDP) and to exam results for school children and students.

Meanwhile, UAE’s Du plans to roll out LTE nationwide by the end of the year, following rival Etisalat’s launch of the service last month.

“Hopefully, we will launch LTE before year end; if it will be delayed it will be maximum a month,” Hatem Bamatraf, senior vice president for network development and operations technology, said at a conference in Dubai, according Middle East-based news agency Zawya.

He added that the firm has a deal in place with Nokia Siemens and Huawei, but declined to disclose how much Du would invest in the new technology.

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