Etisalat sets 3G date

Etisalat is about to begin trials of third generation mobile services with a view to a commercial launch by 2004.

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By  Philip Fenton Published  May 7, 2002

Etisalat is to begin trials on its third generation mobile network in June, according to a senior official.

Eight international vendors are currently lining up to provide Etisalat with the necessary technology and infrastructure. That number is expected to be narrowed down to two or three by the time the trials are due to commence.

“We are committed to 3G, and we plan to have extended trials over the course of the 12 months beginning in June. Based on the current schedule, 3G will be in service in the UAE by late 2003 or early 2004,” said Mohammed Al Fahim, executive vice president for marketing.

“But this is subject to factors such as the availability of 3G handsets in sufficient numbers in the local market. But these are all part of our strategy to offer added value services, even in niche categories.”

Etisalat, which has already begun testing on Multimedia Messaging Services (MMS), would be the first regional operator to launch commercial 3G services if it meets its deadline.

Etisalat has already seen strong demand for its GPRS service, launched late last year. The company says it is on target to meet its full year forecasts for GPRS subscribers.

“The numbers are very encouraging compared to the uptake in Europe or the Far East. Right now, corporate customers are predominant in our GPRS subscribers,” said Al Fahim.

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