Saudi Arabia’s second largest mobile operator by subscribers, Mobily, has announced that it has hired Swedish equipment vendor Ericsson under a USD160 million contract to upgrade and expand its 3.5G networks, potentially tripling mobile broadband speeds and increasing network coverage, reports Al Bawaba. Abdulaziz Al Tamami, chief operations officer, Mobily, said the upgrade was designed to meet the needs of a growing customer base, as well as to offer faster mobile broadband speeds. He said: ‘Mobily is carefully watching and observing the needs of its customer base, which grows day by day, and as such, we are upgrading capacity on our network to maintain current customer experiences, whether they are using the internet through a Connect wireless modem, their mobile phone or directly on their iPhones, and of course in anticipation of the needs of coming customers.’ Mobily has more than 800,000 active HSPA subscribers who use more than 1GB of data a month and contribute to an overall mobile data exchange of 42TB a day. As reported by CommsUpdate on 10 August, the cellco recently completed a 3G expansion project, raising the number of cities and villages enjoying 3G to 326 locations in the Kingdom. Mobily’s third generation network infrastructure now covers over 80% of the inhabited areas of Saudi Arabia, with 78% of the population also covered by 3.5G services.