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MTC-Vodafone to go fully-3G

MTC-Vodafone plans to start shifting all mobile traffic onto its 3G network after it has achieved total UMTS coverage of Bahrain at the end of 2004.

MTC-Vodafone plans to start shifting all mobile traffic onto its 3G network after it has achieved total UMTS coverage of Bahrain at the end of 2004.

Currently, the operator only has around 500 subcribers using its UMTS network, but aims to focus on increasing 3G subscriptions once it has 100% of the Kingdom's population within reach.

Following that, it aims to equip all of its subscribers with 3G-enabled SIM cards so that their calls and data traffic are carried across UMTS infrastructure.

One of the mobile operator’s ideas is then to dismantle its 2G network in Bahrain and transfer it to other regional subsidiaries of parent company, MTC.

“Once we have full coverage of 3G, our intent is to have all of our subscribers 3G-enabled,” says Khaled Muhtadi, chief operating officer, IT and customer service, MTC-Vodafone Bahrain.

“This will result in significant operational cost savings in terms of frequency and network optimisation. We could look at possibly moving [the 2G network] out and transitioning it to other operations,” he adds.

MTC-Vodafone recently contracted its equipment suppliers, Nokia and Siemens, to expand its 3G network, which only currently covers a limited amount of hotspots in Bahrain's capital city, Manama.

“We haven’t pushed 3G so far because of the fact that we don't have full coverage. But that's planned before the end of the year,” explains Muhtadi.

To accompany the move, the operator is also looking to increase its supply of 3G-enabled handsets, as well as connect cards that would allow laptop users to access the web at up to 384Kbits/s.

"There are a number of handsets out there now that are proving good to use," says Muhtadi.

"We’re testing Sony Ericsson and Motorola handsets that offer significant improvements over previous devices. With 3G cards, it's a matter of when we get them. There's big demand for them elsewhere," he adds.

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