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Gulf set to lead with LTE

Gulf countries to pioneer LTE deployment, report indicates

Gulf countries are leading the way with high speed mobile broadband in the Middle East.
Gulf countries are leading the way with high speed mobile broadband in the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the UAE will lead LTE adoption in the Middle East and gain a head start over countries in Western Europe, according to a report from Pyramid Research.

The LTE penetration rate for Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and UAE is expected to reach 11.8%, compared with a projected Western European average of 7.7%, according to the research.

"We expect LTE adoption in the region to reach 6.1% of all mobile subscriptions by 2014, due to strong growth of demand for data services, reliance on mobile rather than fixed access technologies, and the increasingly competitive approaches of the telecom regulators," said Kerem Arsal, an analyst at Pyramid Research.

"Among the region's LTE pioneers - specifically Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Bahrain - we project LTE adoption to reach 11.1% of all subscriptions by 2014, which surpasses our forecast of a 7.7% LTE adoption rate in Western Europe."

Arsal added that much of this projected growth can be attributed to the absence of strong fixed broadband infrastructure and fixed competition, giving "favourable signals" to the network operators that are considering LTE deployments in the region.

"Throughout the wealthier Gulf region, the absence of widespread fixed broadband infrastructure forced most subscribers to rely on mobile technologies for their Internet needs; as a result, some markets in the Middle East, particularly the Gulf area, have experienced huge leaps in mobile broadband demand,"  Arsal said. 

"These are the most suitable settings for LTE, which is likely to begin its life cycle with data cards and connectivity modems. In addition, wealthy Gulf nations have already developed much expertise in upgraded 3G networks; this will lead to a smoother transition to LTE."