Qatar Telecom (Qtel) has announced the launch of a trial of 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) mobile broadband services for hundreds of customers in the capital Doha, to gauge user feedback ahead of a planned commercial launch at the end of 2012. The company called the test phase ‘an essential step for ensuring the best possible customer experience,’ and claimed the LTE network will offer ‘the best penetration’ in the Gulf region, and will on average offer speeds that are three-to-six times faster than 3G. As part of the pre-launch phase, Qtel has installed 100 antennas throughout Doha, including sites in The Pearl, Katara, West Bay, The Corniche and Sealine. After the trial, Qtel it will launch its 4G network to all customers, beginning initially in Doha, and says it will ‘work with leading vendors to make sure that 4G mobile devices are available at affordable prices.’ Qtel is developing 4G services using the 800MHz and 2600MHz frequency bands. In its public announcement Qtel said: ‘Earlier, Qtel received the 800MHz and 2600MHz bandwidth frequencies from the Supreme Council of Information and Communication Technology (ictQATAR)’ – although this has not been announced by the regulator, and a public consultation on ictQATAR’s Radio Spectrum Licensing Framework – launched in mid-August 2012 – was scheduled to remain open until 12 September 2012, TeleGeography notes.