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Three Saudi mobile operators claim LTE launches

15 сентября 2011

For Saudi Arabia's three main mobile operators, being first to market with LTE is extremely important, if announcements made in the country this week are anything to go by.

Saudi Telecom Company (STC), Mobily and Zain have all claimed to be the first to launch LTE in Saudi Arabia in the past couple of days, although the amount of detail in their launch announcements varied considerably, casting doubt over who really did get there first.

STC trumpeted the launch of its LTE service on Wednesday, under its existing Quicknet mobile broadband brand, claiming to be the first operator in the Middle East and North Africa to do so. However, the company provided no details on where the service is available nor how much it costs. A search on the English version of its Website yielded no further information.

STC's announcement came one day after closest rival Mobily revealed that it had launched LTE services – using the TD-LTE variant of the technology – explaining that the first phase of the rollout would see services provided in the cities of Najran, Jazan, Al Kharj, Ras tanoura, Algurayat and Aldudamy.

A second wave of cities will gain access to TD-LTE in two weeks, Etisalat-owned Mobily said, followed by a third phase that will see coverage extended to the capital Riyadh, Jeddah and Damamm by the middle of October. In total, the company said it aims to extend the technology to 85% of Saudi Arabia's populated areas.

“Sorry we kept you waiting, but we are the first in the Middle East,” a banner on the telco's Website advertising its Connect 4G service reads. It is offering a free three-month subscription to the service for customers signing up to its WiMAX-based Broadband @ Home service. There are no details of alternative ways to get Connect 4G at this stage.

Meanwhile, in a similar vein, a high-profile banner appeared on Zain Saudi Arabia's Website at some time in the past day or so also touting a 4G LTE service. “Zain is the first to launch this technology in the Kingdom and Middle East,” the ad proclaims. However, there is no further information available.

It will become clear in the coming days exactly what is available where and from whom. The cynical view would be that, seeing Mobily's TD-LTE launch announcement, which itself looks to be offering a fairly small-scale service at this stage, STC and Zain hurriedly put out announcements of their own. That would explain the lack of detail from both.

However, as it stands it is difficult to say which of the three really is the first to market with LTE. Nor does it really matter. What is certain is that all three view LTE as a strong competitive advantage and are keen to get services based on the technology into the hands of their customers.

Источник: Total Telecom

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