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Etisalat on target to offer faster broadband service

Telecoms company says plans to bring next generation to Mideast in H2 of 2009.

Etisalat has announced it has successfully completed a key stage in its bid to bring next generation mobile broadband connectivity to the Middle East.

In trials in the UAE, the telecoms company has recorded average download speeds of 20.37Mbps, compared to up to 14.4Mbps which the network currently supports.

Etisalat plans to offer mobile broadband connectivity using High Speed Packet Access solutions (HSPA) which enable download speeds of up to 28.8Mbps and uploads of up to 18.0Mbps in the second half of 2009, officials said.

The results of the trial were announced at the South Asia, Middle East and North Africa Telecommunications Council, during a meeting in Beirut.

Etisalat's chief corporate affairs officer, Nasser bin Obood, said: "Mobile broadband has an important role to play in the Middle East region and we will see a significant growth in uptake in services."

At the recent GSM World Congress in Barcelona, the GSM Association predicted there will be one billion HSPA subscribers worldwide by 2012.

Meanwhile in Saudi Arabia subscriptions to Mobily's HSPA-based broadband has risen to 300,000 in the past 18 months.

The company cites its partnership with one of the world’s leading infrastructure manufacturers, Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. of China, as the key reason for the growth.

The partnership has served Mobily at two levels; infrastructure and end-user terminals, according to Saudi daily Arab News.

At the infrastructure level, the core of Mobily’s second generation and third generation networks — its Serving GPRS Node (SGSN) and Gateway GPRS Service Node (GGSN) — rely heavily on Huawei technology, the company said.

And Huawei terminals (user modems and routers) compliment this infrastructure, being sold at hundreds of Mobily outlets across the Kingdom under the “Mobily Connect” brand, it added.