Alfa demos 300Mbps LTE-A on live network; management denies missing state tender deadline

12 Aug 2015

Alfa – one of Lebanon’s two state-owned mobile network operators with approximately 48% of subscribers – has announced the successful demonstration of 300Mbps peak mobile data speeds via LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) technology with Carrier Aggregation (CA) on its live 4G LTE network in Beirut. In a release on its website, Alfa said the 300Mbps ‘4G+’ demo was carried out at the ABC Complex in the Achrafieh district of the capital city, under the patronage of Lebanon’s telecoms minister Boutros Harb. Managing Director of Alfa, Marwan Hayek said that the 300Mbps LTE-A speed tripled the maximum data rates possible on the cellco’s existing commercial LTE network, and was achieved via CA incorporating two carriers (20MHz + 20MHz) in the 800MHz and 1800MHz bands. Furthermore, he claimed that this network configuration was unique in Lebanon and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Hayek continued by saying that within 18 months, Lebanon will have comprehensive 4G and 4G+ coverage across all of its regions, encompassing 99.5% of the population, compared to the current 4G population coverage of around 40%. Telecoms Minister Harb called the project a successful step in the national ‘2020’ communications development plan.

Meanwhile, MD Hayek has denied that Alfa’s current management company, Egypt-based Orascom Telecom Media & Technology, missed the application deadline in the government’s management contract tender for Alfa and its rival Touch Lebanon. Last week, it was announced that six companies were bidding for the contracts – Vodafone Group (UK), Orange Group (France), Deutsche Telecom (Germany) via subsidiary Datacom, Maxis (Malaysia), Turkcell (Turkey) and Zain Group of Kuwait (Touch Lebanon’s current management firm). However, Hayek told Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star that Orascom’s application had been submitted on the specified deadline day – 1 July – whilst arguing that no specific time-of-day cut-off had been given in the tender instructions. Hayek expressed surprise that the telecoms ministry had apparently disqualified the application for lateness, although it is unclear what further action Alfa/Orascom will take at this stage.