Saudi Telecom Company (STC) has announced the launch of Long Term Evolution (LTE) services in the Kingdom, as the battle for fourth-generation supremacy intensifies. The move follows yesterday’s high-profile LTE announcement from rival operator Mobily; both operators claim to be the first cellco in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region to commercially launch a network based on LTE technology. Said Jamil bin Abdullah Al-Melhem, president of STC, commented: ‘The company continues its pioneering role, and its ongoing quest to provide the most services and the latest and highest international standards. And today [STC] offers the latest mobile communication networks, 4G LTE. The information revolution is coming and to provide a quantum leap in the speed of data transfer – wherever the client – to reach to top speeds of 100Mbps’.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, in February 2010 STC selected Ericsson for the deployment of its LTE network, and a month later contracted Alcatel-Lucent for an end-to-end LTE trial, to begin in the second half of 2010. Under the second deal, Alca-Lu provided LTE base stations (eNodeBs), the Evolved Packet Core (EPC), IP service routing network elements as well as operation, administration and maintenance (OAM) systems. The French-US vendor will also provide a range of professional services including project management, planning, installation, integration and commissioning, and testing. More recently, in April 2010, STC selected Huawei to supply kit for the LTE network deployment. The first phase of the project was delivered successfully, according to a Huawei statement, offering peak downlink data rates of up to 100Mbps per user with commercial LTE datacards in the field.