Wataniya Telecom blazes IMS trail into Middle East

IMS is forecast to be introduced ahead of the launch of 3G, which is scheduled to occur before the end of the year, and will also be available over 3G when the network goes live.

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By  Tawanda Chihota Published  September 18, 2005

Kuwait’s Wataniya Telecom is set to become one of the first operators in the Middle East to launch IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem)-based services, which are expected to become available before year-end. The operator, which has scored a number of technical firsts, including the launch of a balance transfer system between prepaid subscribers, where one prepaid user is able to transfer credit balances to another prepaid user. The application, announced in May, is built on Nokia’s Connect eRefill platform. As far as IMS goes, Wataniya’s chief strategy officer and director of B2B, Niklas Sonkin says IMS is in the process of being developed and trialled by the operator in partnership with Nokia. In May, the two companies announced that they would work together in the implementation of advanced technologies that would enhance the operator’s network and take Wataniya ‘beyond 3G.’ As part of the agreement, Nokia is set to supply Wataniya with a wide variety of products including a HSDPA solution early next year. IMS is forecast to be introduced ahead of the launch of 3G, which is scheduled to occur before the end of the year, and will also be available over 3G when the network goes live. At present Wataniya has a nationwide EDGE network that it upgraded earlier this year in a high-profile project that saw it launch a programme to upgrade all existing SIM cards to EDGE. Sonkin says 650,000 new EDGE SIM cards are currently in circulation, 500,000 of which are being used by subscribers that have upgraded their original SIMs and a further 150,000 being used by new EDGE subscribers. In June, Wataniya also announced a deal with its other infrastructure vendor, Ericsson, for the delivery of the vendor’s Mobile Organiser (EMO) service, Ericsson’s first such deal in the Middle East. Under the agreement Ericsson agreed to provide Wataniya with a complete push e-mail solution including both hardware and application software.

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