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Saudi Telecom Company (STC) has launched next generation TD-LTE (time division long term evolution) network services in the kingdom, the telecom company said in a statement.
The move follows a similar announcement from rival Etihad Etisalat (Mobily) earlier, with both carriers claiming to be the first in the Middle East to roll out LTE, or 4G.
Power of TD-LTE
STC is now able to offer commercial 4G mobile services using TD-LTE (time division long term evolution) technology. The 4G network was built by Nokia Siemens Networks for the country’s western region. TD-LTE offers an enhanced mobile broadband experience with faster access to high quality video and more responsive data services.
“Nokia Siemens Networks capabilities and commitment to the overall LTE ecosystem have contributed to STC’s leadership in providing innovative mobile broadband services,” said Dr. Zeyad Bin Thamer Al Otaibi, group CTO, Saudi Telecom Company. “The transformational capabilities of 4G will provide our customers with increased speeds and enhanced user experience.”
The TD-LTE radio network is built on a cluster of sites in three cities in the western region. It uses Nokia Siemens Networks’ single radio access network (RAN) including its Flexi Multiradio Base Stations and is integrated with the operator’s existing core, transport and backhaul infrastructure.
The Middle East and Africa region will witness an increase of monthly mobile data traffic at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 129 per cent over the next five years, the fastest of any region in the world.
Saudi's mobile penetration is 188 per cent - the third-highest in the world - so mobile data and Internet are likely to be operators' main revenue drivers as subscriber growth stagnates, spurring the race to roll out LTE.
STC and Mobily
Between them, STC and Mobily account for more than 80 percent of Saudi's mobile subscribers, with indebted Zain Saudi a distant third.
Mobily claims three-quarters of the kingdom's mobile broadband subscribers - data accounts for about 20 per cent of its revenue - and STC's LTE push is seen as trying to win more of this market share.