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Saudi Arabia is first for MENA LTE – three times over

Three Saudi operators have launched 4G/LTE services in the Middle Eastern kingdom – with each claiming that they are the first to do so in the MENA region.

Etihad Etisalat (Mobily), Saudi Telecom Company (STC) and Zain Saudi Arabia (Zain KSA) have all launched commercial services across various areas. STC’s network, installed by Nokia Siemens Networks, covers the country’s western region, while Zain KSA’s covers three major cities - Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam – with plans to expand to all major cities by the end of 2012.

Meanwhile, Mobily’s network covers several cities, including Aldudamy, Algurayat, Al Kharj, Jazan, Najran and Ras tanoura. While Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam are in the operator’s sights - with services scheduled to launch next month - other cities will receive services across the next few weeks, including Al Baha, Al Mujamaaa, Hail and Wadi Al Dawasir.

All three operators are offering TD-LTE coverage, based on the TDD (time division duplex) standard of LTE for single spectrum bands. These launches are the first time that commercial services have been offered using this standard; previously the FDD (frequency division duplex) standard for paired spectrum bands has been used in LTE deployments.

TD-LTE offers an enhanced mobile broadband experience with faster access to high quality video and more responsive data services. LTE, a fourth generation mobile broadband technology, allows the operator to deliver high data throughputs, allowing consumers to benefit from a wide range of new and innovative multimedia applications and services.

Zain’s commercial services are being launched in partnership with Huawei, while Mobily has reportedly signed significant TD-LTE network deals with Samsung and Huawei.

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