Wataniya revamps network

The needs of enterprise customers are key to Wataniya’s plans to build a 4G network based on products from Nokia and Ericsson.

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By  Alex Ritman Published  October 27, 2005

|~|Wataniy-Harribig.jpg|~|“The gap in the time of delivery of 3G and 4G is so small, it makes sense to go straight to 4G. HSDPA will remove all manner of capacity bottlenecks and will allow the delivery of broadband-type services that will be utilised by heavy data users.” Harri Koponen, CEO and general manager at Wataniya Telecom.|~|Wataniya Telecom is undertaking a massive core and radio access network infrastructure revamp. The Kuwaiti telco has dropped Siemens as its main supplier in favour of twin Nordic giants, Nokia and Ericsson. Nokia is the sole contract supplier for Wataniya’s new core network, while Ericsson and Nokia will share elements of the radio access contract. “The old network was not performing and there were some disagreements between ourselves and Siemens about the future roadmap,” says Niklas Sonkin director, strategy & B2B business, Wataniya Telecom. Wataniya says it is transforming the network into one of the most sophisticated in the world. It has installed a new network and has utilised a completely new technique that allows it to switch networks without any service outage or downtime. The network revamp forms part of Wataniya’s increasing focus on the enterprise customer. Like most operators in the region, Wataniya is actively targeting corporate users despite only 10% of its installed subscriber base of over 900,000 being postpaid. The operator is developing VPN products and has partnered with Canadian card supplier Sierra Wireless for the offer of EDGE-enabled PCMCIA cards for mobile data access for laptops. Finnish mobile enterprise solutions provider Smartner Information Systems has been contracted by Wataniya to develop push e-mail applications and Wataniya has recently recruited Jukka Paasivaara as corporate sales manager. “We are embarking on a three-pronged approach targeting corporate users,” says Paasivaara. “There are opportunities to develop value added services for person-person communications, person-machine communications as well as multimedia solutions.” For Nokia, the advantages of new mobile enterprise services are obvious. “When it comes to offering enterprise mobility solutions, you need to convince two groups of people,” explains Pekka Isosomppi, communications manager for Nokia’s enterprise solutions. “The IT manager, because services are becoming more complex, as well as the decision maker.” Harri Koponen, Wataniya Telecom’s CEO and general manager reckons the revamp will give Wataniya the tools to leapfrog current 3G technologies and move ahead to 4G. “The gap in the time of delivery of 3G and 4G is so small, it makes sense to go straight to 4G,” says Koponen. The basis of Wataniya’s 4G vision was articulated at the end of May, when the operator announced its tie-up with Nokia for the implementation of advanced technologies that would take Wataniya ‘beyond 3G’. As part of the agreement, Nokia is supplying Wataniya with a variety of next-generation products including the high-speed downlink packet access (HSDPA) solution. Koponen says the operator will deploy HSDPA technology during the course of next year, having deployed a UMTS network before the end of this year. “HSDPA will remove all manner of capacity bottlenecks and will allow the delivery of broadband-type services that will be utilised by heavy data users,” he adds. Wataniya also wants to become a leader in IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem) technology. “IMS is set to be introduced ahead of the launch of 3G,” says Sonkin. Should this occur towards the tail end of this year or early next, it would be one of the earliest commercial launches of IMS anywhere in the world. IMS is designed to merge the internet with the cellular world and provide a single, open, standardised architecture for mobile and fixed IP services. ||**||

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