Nokia strikes major deal with du for mobile network

The UAE's new second operator has turned to Nokia for a major mobile infrastructure deal, worth at least US$190 million, deploying both 2G and 3G technologies.

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By  Alex Ritman Published  March 7, 2006

The UAE’s new second operator, du, has signed a major agreement with Nokia. The deal, worth at least AED700 million (US$190 million), will see Nokia build the complete GSM/GPRS and 3G core network for du, as well as the majority of the radio network. “This represents a major milestone for Nokia,” says Walid Moneimne, senior VP Nokia Networks CEMEA. “We are extremely pleased and honoured to be associated with EITC and du.” There are currently sixty networks in the world today operating both 2G and 3G networks. “All of these have been built by bringing 3G technology onto 2G,” says Moneimne. However, he adds that this deal is unique because du was building from scratch a 2G and 3G network. The contract with du also has a major managed services component, says Moneimne. “This is sometimes called outsourcing, where we will be operating the network for an agreed period of time.” He says that such a large managed services component is unique in the region. According to du CEO Osman Sultan, the network will take around four to six months to build, but there are other elements to add on. “We are intending to offer mobile services nationwide by the second half of 2006.” But du will be using the mobile network of Etisalat, the UAE’s monopoly operator until the launch of du, in the regions in which it has not yet rolled out its own infrastructure. “There is no point to wait until every single remote part is connected,” says Sultan. “But most of the densely populated areas will be covered by our own network,” he adds, without going into details on the ongoing talks with Etisalat regarding roaming agreements. Moneimne said that discussions between du and Nokia had been going on for a couple of months before the deal was announced. “I was extremely surprised that nothing has been in the press in the last two months, despite having hundreds of people meeting day and night from both companies.” Aside from having an advanced mobile network based on 2G and 3G mobile technologies, Sultan says that the strategy for du includes focussing on a next generation fixed line network.

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