Bahrain Telecommunications Company (Batelco) and Swedish technology giant Ericsson have signed a contract to implement a network upgrading project named the Mobile Network Expansion (MNE) 2010, which Batelco says will ensure readiness for the introduction of ‘4G’ Long Term Evolution (LTE). Batelco earmarked investment of BHD14.5 million (USD17.6 million) for the MNE 2010 project to address growing demand for data and higher quality communications services from business customers and consumers in Bahrain. A company statement said: ‘Our major objective is to enhance, upgrade and expand our mobile voice and internet network to tackle a number of needs such as providing or enhancing coverage and quality of service in newly developed or remote areas… The MNE 2010 project will ensure… our readiness for LTE.’ The aims of the project include providing faster access to the internet and superior voice services ‘anytime and anywhere’ across the Kingdom. The upgraded network will be capable of handling the much greater throughput of data in real time that’s required to support such services as mobile video streaming and videoconferencing, web-based applications and services, and the rapid transfer of large files. Once implemented, LTE will enable data download rates up to ten times faster than that of the existing 3G/3.5G system.