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UAE to get 3G "within three years"

Etisalat is promising to bring third generation mobile phone services to the UAE by 2004, making it the first country in the region to experience 3G.

The cost of implementing third generation mobile services may be causing problems for major operators around the world, but that hasn’t stopped Etisalat announcing its intention to launch the new technology in the UAE by 2004.

If this happens, the Emirates will be the first country in the gulf region to experience 3G.

“Our commitment and launch schedule for 3G makes us among the first lot of telcos in the world to do so,” said Saleh Al Abdooli, manager of engineering mobile systems at Etisalat.

“It’s important that we make the investments, which are substantial, on 3G now. Otherwise, we run the risk of falling behind in the technology stakes.”

The 3G investment is the latest part of Etisalat’s four-year plan for developing new technology and services. Over a billion dollars have been earmarked for the project.

Early testing of the new system could be taking place in major cities as early as December this year.

The UAE could prove to be the ultimate test bed for 3G – with one of the highest mobile penetration rates in the world and large amounts of capital available. If 3G fails to take off in the technology-friendly UAE, so the argument goes, it is unlikely to be a success elsewhere.

The world’s first public 3G network is currently being established by BT-owned Manx Telecom on the Isle Of Man, an island roughly the size of Bahrain just north of Wales.

3G systems allow data transmission at speeds of up to 2 MB/s, letting users access applications including streaming video and the Internet.

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