Zain Saudi Arabia is upgrading and expanding its networks with agreements worth SAR (US $1.2 billion), as part of its Reload project.
Five major technology companies have secured deals to modernise Zain’s network to cope with increasing traffic.
Huawei, Nokia, NEC, Cisco, and Alcatel Lucent are part of the operator’s initiative to enhance its customer experience and to improve and expand its network capacity, coverage and speed. The deals are largely for LTE and mobile broadband equipment, encompassing core network, internet gateway, IP backbone, radio access and transmission.
Hassan Kabbani, CEO of Zain KSA, said: “Today’s announcement is all about building for the future to anticipate the need for more capacity. We are also expanding our 4G LTE network, making it available to more people, in more places across the Kingdom.”
“We want to reload our network infrastructure with the very latest of technologies in order to address the high demand for more interesting services”, he added.
Acting Chief Technical Officer Sultan Abdulaziz Al-Deghaither added: “We aim to provide 4G LTE coverage to over 90% of the population, providing existing and new customers with real high-speed mobile internet connectivity. Today we are announcing the expansion of our state of the art network to accommodate the exponential growth of data traffic that we see.”
Zain was the first Middle Eastern operator to launch 4G services, beginning in September 2011. It will be using its own resources to finance the deals. The contracts are for a turnkey project to be delivered over three years, with the goal of providing “superior customer experience in a more cost effective way” via “a state of the art modern network to cope with the ever growing demand of data communication”.
Upon completion of the project, network coverage will reach 96% with major improvements to capacity. New services will also be available to consumers, with Nokia confirming that it would provide its Liquid Applications cloud technology to enable customised applications, including augmented reality and location-based services.
Zain is Saudi Arabia’s third-largest provider, with 8.36 million subscribers. This puts it significantly behind STC (23.23 million) and Mobily (19.95 million); the Reload project is in part aimed at increasing its market share.