The United Arab Emirates’ incumbent telecoms operator Etisalat plans to cover 80% of the country’s populated areas with Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology by the end of 2011, Zawya Dow Jones reports, citing a company official. According to Ali Al Ahmed, Etisalat’s chief corporate communication officer, the incumbent has begun the final phase of trials on the 4G network, with a commercial launch expected in the third quarter of the year. As previously reported by CommsUpdate, French-US equipment vendor Alcatel-Lucent announced in February 2011 that it had been contracted to deploy Etisalat’s LTE network. The vendor is providing its High Leverage Network solution, which includes LTE base stations (eNodeBs), an all-IP wireless Evolved Packet Core (EPC), a converged end-to-end network management solution and a range of professional services including project management, planning, installation, commissioning and integration. Meanwhile, last month Etisalat’s sole domestic rival Du announced the successful completion of its first pilot trial of LTE, adding that a commercial launch of the 4G technology would follow in the second half of 2011.