Six months after launching Long Term Evolution (LTE) services in Kuwait, the country’s largest cellco in terms of subscribers Zain has switched 9.3% of its mobile customers to the 4G technology, Global Telecoms Business reports. According to Zain Kuwait’s COO Hani El Kukhun, the LTE subscribers were responsible for 41% of the company’s data traffic in the January-June period of 2013, while 3G subscribers, who represent 55% of the total subscribers, accounted for 56% of the data traffic by that date. The executive, however, added that although the LTE network has boosted demand, it is a significant challenge for mobile operators to monetise it, as the cost of investment in LTE infrastructure is immense. Mr El Kukhun also stated: ‘LTE can become the primary method of internet access. You don’t even need the fixed network in Kuwait. It is designed to provide up to 100Mbps and we have seen 85Mbps average download speeds.’
According to TeleGeography, Zain Kuwait launched 4G services under the brand name Wiyana Connect 4G LTE in November 2012, stating that the country’s ‘first nationwide LTE offering’ was available for all compatible mobile phones, tablets, routers, hotspots and dongles. Rival cellco Kuwait Telecom Company (Viva) launched LTE services in December 2011; the coverage of Viva’s network was initially restricted to central areas, although in March 2013 the Saudi-backed operator claimed it had expanded coverage for ‘all customers’ nationwide.