Alfa, the Lebanese state-owned mobile operator managed by Orascom Telecom, has signed a partnership agreement with Swedish equipment provider Ericsson to deploy the country’s first 3G network based on W-CDMA/HSPA technology. Under the contract, Ericsson will be responsible for upgrading and modernising the cellular network of Alfa (the trading name of Mobile Interim Company 1) by rolling out a 3.5G network based on HSPA+ technology across the country, enabling mobile data services at peak theoretical speeds of up to 21Mbps. Alfa’s CEO, Marwan Hayek announced that the third-generation rollout ‘will be tailored to meet specific Lebanese consumer needs with better voice quality and a bouquet of tailor made applications and services.’ Hayek added: ‘Since Orascom Telecom took over the management of Alfa [in February 2009] we have embarked on an expansion plan from day one, and, once again, we will deliver latest mobile services to our customers through this renewed partnership with Ericsson.’
Tarek Saadi, President of Ericsson’s North Middle East division, greeted the contract win with the words: ‘We are proud of our deep seeded roots in Lebanon with uninterrupted presence for that past 60 years. Today in Lebanon we employ more than 300 local engineers, technicians, and support staff. We are very excited about this new deal with Alfa… bringing mobile broadband… access through HSPA+ [which] allows the majority of customers, fast, and reliable connection to numerous applications including popular social networking sites.’ Alfa had 1.25 million subscribers at end-September 2010. Earlier this month Orascom Telecom signed a one-year extension to its Alfa management contract, to run until 1 February 2012.