Etisalat launches 3G network

Etisalat has officially launched its 3G network and has issued a call for mobile phone suppliers to make their handsets available in the UAE.

  • E-Mail
By  Richard Agnew Published  December 24, 2003

Etisalat has officially launched its 3G network and has issued a call for mobile phone suppliers to make their handsets available in the UAE.

Chinese equipment vendor, Huawei Techologies, was recruited by the monopoly operator to provide it with the UMTS infrastructure in a project valued at around 60million dirhams (US$16 million).

The move will see high-speed access to multimedia services made available to mobile subscribers in the country's most populated areas.

The launch of the network by Etisalat was brought forward from its original date in 2004.

Opening the service on December 24th, His Excellency Ahmed Humaid Al Tayer, the Minister of Communications in the UAE, made a video telephony call with Ali Salem Al Owais, Etisalat's president and chief executive.

"The launch follows the satisfactory completion of all necessary tests, which have been ongoing since July 2002," says Al Owais.

"It will create significant added value for customers by providing mobile access to internet-based multimedia services, video conferencing and streaming," he adds.

According to the operator, owners of 3G handsets will be charged the existing price for voice calls while video streaming will cost "three to four" times as much.

Initially, though, the operator will be focusing efforts content providers, handset manufacturers and resellers in a bid to tackle the shortages of devices and attractive services that has hampered 3G providers elsewhere.

Handsets brought into the market will also be passed through Etisalat's type approval process before being made available, the operator says.

"We understand that, internationally, there was a shortage of mobile terminals and with some 3G launches, teething issues had to be resolved," says Khalid Al Kaf, Etisalat's general manager of network services.

"Now, we believe that call connection issues have been resolved and the terminals coming into the market are proven, and that's why we are telling our terminal providers that the 3G network is ready in the UAE," he adds.

Huawei was selected to engineer the first phase of Etisalat's 3G network following a long-running open tender.

Etisalat says it will assess demand for the service before deciding upon a supplier to extend coverage.

"The network is covering all the cities in the country and all the major congested areas outside the cities. We also have seamless handover to [the GPRS network] for data and internet and to the [GSM] network for voice, for which we have about 99% coverage," says Al Kaf.

Meanwhile, Etisalat also says it is involved in testing of seamless roaming between 3G networks and wireless hotspots, within the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP).

"We are in the process of testing that and once its ready we will announce it. I'm not that expecting before the third quarter of next year," adds Al Kaf.

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code