Zain to launch 4G before year-end

17 Apr 2014

Zain Jordan, the nation’s largest cellco by subscribers, has secured 4G and 3G frequencies for a total of JOD192 million (USD270.2 million) and plans to launch 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) services with speeds of up to 150Mbps by the end of the year, the Jordan Times writes, citing officials from the company. Zain paid JOD142 million for the 4G frequencies and a further JOD50 million for additional 2100MHz spectrum to bolster its existing 3G airwaves. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that the nation’s incumbent cellcos Zain Jordan, Orange Jordan and Umniah boycotted the auction of 2G, 3G and 4G spectrum in mid-2013 in protest against the government’s decision to double taxes levied on mobile phones and services to 16% and 24% respectively. Consequently, the Telecom Regulatory Commission (TRC) received just two bids for the frequencies, both of which were rejected for failing to satisfy the basic criteria for the tender. The TRC subsequently invited the incumbent trio to submit requests to acquire 4G frequencies and earlier this month it was reported that an unnamed cellco had broken ranks and entered an offer for the spectrum.

Having purchased its frequencies outside of the auction structure, it is unclear which spectrum range Zain’s new concession uses; the TRC had previously allocated airwaves in the 1800MHz, 2300MHz and 2600MHz for 4G use. Mohammad Taani, the chief commissioner of the TRC clarified that there are still frequencies available for Orange and Umniah, saying: ‘There will be no exclusivity for Zain Jordan. Any other operator can acquire frequencies to introduce the services at any time.’ Taani went on to note that the remaining duo had also now expressed an interest in entering the 4G market.