Etisalat demos 3g capability

The UAE’s monopoly service provider is running a variety of 3G-based demos to illustrate possible consumer and corporate broadband services.

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By  Greg Wilson Published  October 19, 2003

3G services have taken over a huge part of Etisalat’s stand. The UAE’s monopoly service provider is running a variety of 3G-based demos to illustrate possible consumer and corporate broadband services.

The stand includes a smart living room, which showcases interactive TV, internet and e-mail all over the same network. The smart majilis display houses broadband internet, interactive entertainment and video conferencing. The smart study area has a demonstration of e-learning technologies and interactive TV.

Etisalat has also installed an internet-enabled fridge and other household appliances in its smart kitchen set up, which enables a homeowner to access the devices remotely, using m-Net, GPRS and WAP.
The operator has also given over part of its stand to showcase the smart office IP-based applications that include voice over broadband and multi-party video conferencing using IP-enabled cameras.

“When we first showed this technology last year, we thought it would take some time before we introduced it. But the Middle East is moving faster than Western Europe with these services,” says Mohamed Ahmed Al Fahim, executive vice president, marketing, Etisalat.

“This year, we have a live 3G network on the stand that customers can come and test services that we’re planning to introduce very shortly,” he adds.

Etisalat hopes to start offering commercial 3G services by Q3 2004, in certain ‘hotspots’ around the UAE. The operator is currently testing networks as part of the tendering process. The initial introduction of hotspots will largely depend on the uptake of the service within the Emirates.

Etisalat is confident that demand for 3G services will grow rapidly. According to Al Fahim, there are currently 2.8 million GSM subscribers in the UAE. Of those 85,000 are users of the operator’s GPRS service.

“When we were introducing GPRS many people were saying that there wasn’t a market for it, but now we have 85,000 subscribers. 3G offers users greater speed, and more bandwidth. We’re showing today that we have applications and services,” says Al Fahim.

“We will start with 3G in concentrated areas, and then open up the network. Full coverage depends on the applications, content and demand,” he adds.

In an attempt to drive mobile content and services, Etisalat is scheduled to reveal a mobile portal later this week. The operator hopes that the portal will act as a platform for local developers to start producing quality local content and applications.

“We need to have applications and content that suit the local environment. We’re unveiling a portal later this week. This will put a in place a new infrastructure for [content providers],” says Al Fahim.

“This business model will encourage them to develop content with a revenue sharing system,” he adds. E7-1

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