Ooredoo announces 4G roadmap
Qatar, Oman launched; Kuwait to follow later this year
Qatar operator Ooredoo today announced it has completed commercial launches of 4G mobile broadband networks in Qatar and Oman, with Kuwait scheduled for later this year.
The launches are part of a renewed push for the provider formerly known as QTel, in the area of long-term-evolution networks (LTE), a standard that delivers connection speeds that can be three to six times as fast as their 3G predecessors.
Dr Nasser Marafih, group chief executive officer, Ooredoo, said: "We are the region's leader in delivering the ultrafast 4G mobile broadband network in 2013, as we have launched 4G services in Qatar, Oman and Kuwait. Throughout our footprint, we have been implementing our long-term strategy of network enhancement, providing the best experience for customers on our 2G, 3G or 4G networks; and the results are already being enjoyed across the region."
Ooredoo said it has been witnessing rapid uptake of 4G services, driven by more affordable smartphones and higher smart device penetration figures.
"Thousands of customers in Qatar have already signed up for 4G since Ooredoo Qatar launched the service in April 2013," the company said.
Currently, 4G is available to customers using Ooredoo's 4G-enabled My-Fi devices and USB modems in the capital Doha, and Sealine Beach Resort. The company is bringing 4G to additional devices by the end of 2013, and is rapidly rolling-out 4G to cover all inhabited areas of Qatar by the end of 2014.
In Oman, Ooredoo affiliate Nawras launched 4G in February 2013, starting in the capital of Muscat. Nawras has also been strengthening the indoor coverage of its "turbocharged" 3G+ network by transmitting 3G on the 900 MHz and 2100 MHz spectrum. As part of its Network Turbocharging programme, Nawras has pledged to deliver 3G+ to almost the entire population by the end of 2014.
Wataniya Kuwait is in the midst of a 4G pilot project, with its network available in 20 heavily trafficked locations throughout the country.
Beyond the Gulf region, Wataniya Maldives launched trials for the country's first-ever 4G network in April 2013, as part of the company's network modernisation project; and Indosat in Indonesia has received government license approval for the 900 MHz band, allowing the company to introduce 4G services when the market is ready.
Throughout Ooredoo's footprint, when customers travel outside of the 4G coverage area, they can find seamless integration with the 3G network.
In countries without 4G, Ooredoo's opcos have been upgrading their networks. In Tunisia, Tunisiana plans to cover nearly the entire population with 3G by the end of 2013. Asiacell in Iraq and Nedjma in Algeria are preparing their 2G networks to be upgraded to 3G, pending government licenses.
"We are making good progress on our strategy to upgrade more than 15,000 base stations over the next three to five years, in order to stay ahead of rising demand for mobile broadband services," said Marafih. "We are moving into a leadership position and aim to build on that in the months and years ahead."