Wataniya recruits Siemens for EDGE upgrade

Wataniya Telecom, the Kuwaiti mobile operator, is planning to upgrade most of its network to EDGE-capability by the end of this year.

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By  Richard Agnew Published  October 12, 2003

Wataniya Telecom, the Kuwaiti mobile operator, is planning to upgrade most of its network to EDGE by the end of this year.

The move will see the operator preparing for the availability of EDGE or 2.75G-enabled handsets by making its base stations between downtown Kuwait City and the capital's sixth ring road capable of handling data speeds of over 100kbits/s.

German telecoms equipment supplier, Siemens, has been recruited to provide Wataniya with its EDGE solution.

The operator says this will allow it to deliver data services over its GPRS network more efficiently.

"The most populated areas of Kuwait will be fully EDGE deployed by the end of December," says David Murray, Wataniya's CEO.

Several mobile operators in the Middle East, including MTC-Vodafone in Bahrain and the UAE's Etisalat, are aiming to deploy multimedia services over faster UMTS networks next year.

But Wataniya says that the "jury is out" on its own plans for full 3G deployment.

"If you look at video streaming and video clips, you can deliver them over EDGE. [UMTS] gives you a greater amount of bandwidth, but if you are not bandwidth-constricted and the speeds that you can deliver from your existing technologies can meet [demand], why would you need 3G?" Murray says.

As we stand today, I don't see that 3G offers anything [more] than alternative technologies based on legacy systems," he adds.

Wataniya, however, will not be able to offer EDGE-based services until enabled handsets become available. This, mobile manufacturers say, will not happen until the middle of 2004 at the earliest.

"I don't want to put a date on it [commercial deployment] because my concern with EDGE is handset availability," says Murray.

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