ITC starts Saudi WiMax delivery

Trials are beginning this month in Saudi Arabia for what will be the Kingdom’s largest wireless broadband network.

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By  Diana Milne Published  November 6, 2005

Trials are beginning this month in Saudi Arabia for what will be the Kingdom’s largest wireless broadband network. The multimillion-dollar project, which is being implemented by Integrated Telecom Company (ITC), will also be the first such network in Saudi Arabia to be based on WiMax technology. The network will be installed using a turnkey solution from Intracom and IP solutions from Cisco, and will be based on WiMax technology from Redline Communications. ITC, which was set up last year and is a sister company of Saudi’s Orbit media firm, will provide high-speed wireless, voice, video and data services on a countrywide scale. Its network will also include digital leased lines, VPN services, Metro Ethernet and international data gateway services. “The availability of broadband with a large bandwidth will open so many doors in Saudi Arabia,” said Mohammed O-mar, president and chief executive officer of ITC. “The demand for communications technology in the Middle East is growing rapidly and ITC has recognised the potential for WiMax technologies to improve communications ,” added Majed Sifri, president and CEO of Redline Communications. The first phase of the deployment will cost US$22 million and will be completed in April. It will involve the setting up of an infrastructure to support the network, including the installation of base stations and acess points. In the second phase, which will be completed in 2007, ITC will focus on establishing the metro Ethernet, voice capability and voice solutions on the network. The final phase — for which there is no fixed completion date — will involve the expansion of the network. The pilot test for the system will take place towards the end of this month, and by January services will be available to selected corporate customers and some members of the Saudi Royal family. Broadband services will be fully up and running by April, the company said. ITC’s aim is to ultimately deliver services such as voice-over-IP services, multi-casting and triple play to businesses and residents. The main priority, according to Omar, is to provide users with a much needed speedy and secure internet connection. “At the moment people just want their basic internet needs to be met,” he said. “Residents want high speed basic internet access and what businesses really want is secure connectivity between the different departments in their businesses,” he continued. He added that ITC was already in talks with the Saudi government about setting up e-government based on the new technology. “Making this bandwidth available will open so many doors in Saudi Arabia,” Omar claimed. “We have had a great deal of interest from the government and from the education sector. Once the infrastructure we are building is complete there will be more and more discussions with the government about setting up e-government in Saudi Arabia.” Yaman Abousaleh, territory and account manager for ITC at Cisco, said the network would be of great benefit to users in Saudi. “It has not been a top priority for other service providers in the country but ITC wants the time to market of this to happen as quickly as possible,” he claimed. A rival service provided by Mobily does provide broadband access in four cities — Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam, Khubar and Dahran — following the telco’s deployment of Aperto Networks’ PacketWave broadband wireless systems in September.

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