STC to complete LTE network in 2010
STC set to complete pre-commercial LTE network this year.
Saudi Arabian incumbent STC expects to complete the roll out of a pre-commercial LTE network, covering major metropolitan areas such as Riyadh and Dammam, by the end of 2010.
STC has hired Huawei to deploy the network, which will be the largest pre-commercial LTE network in the Middle East, according to the operator.
Huawei said in a statement that the first phase of the project had already been delivered, offering peak downlink data rates of up to 100Mbps.
Ying Weimin, Huawei's president of LTE products, said the vendor expected data services to increase "500 to 1000 times in the next decade".
"With surging demand for data applications, the entire industry is facing the significant challenge of how to effectively deploy and operate a profitable mobile broadband network," he said.
He added that the project with STC had demonstrated that it was possible to develop and operate a mobile broadband network "that delivers the quality and connection speed necessary to satisfy user demand" while also being profitable.
Saudi Arabia is emerging as a hot bed of LTE activity, with each of the country's three mobile operators working on trials with various vendors.
Last month, STC said it had selected vendor Alcatel-Lucent for "end-to-end" LTE trials to begin in the second half of 2010", after previously announcing that it had partnered with Ericsson for the deployment of an LTE network.
Meanwhile, rival operator Mobily, a division of the UAE's Etisalat, said in March that it had "successfully concluded" LTE trials, which included lab and field tests, with Huawei.
Saudi Arabia's third operator, Zain KSA, last month vowed that it would deploy the country's first LTE network, after signing deals with Motorola and Ericsson.