4G mobile network launch ‘in months’
February 14 2013 01:00 AM

By Pratap John/Chief Business Reporter


Qatar will see the commercial roll out of the ultra-fast 4G network over the next few months with the two service providers – Qtel and Vodafone reaching a crucial phase of the Long-Term Evolution (LTE) programme that will deliver the fourth generation network in the country.

Qtel is in the “final testing stage” of the 4G LTE mobile broadband network and is expecting to begin commercial launch in Doha in the coming months.

Vodafone, on the other hand, would launch a trial of LTE “in the very near future”.

LTE is a wireless broadband technology that supports roaming Internet access via mobile phones and devices and which seamlessly interworks with 2G and 3G networks.

Because of the significant improvements in download speeds and quality, it is called the “fourth generation” (4G) technology.

In Qatar, the service is expected to provide customers with “universal connectivity at incredible downlink speeds” of up to 150 Mbps for a broad range of services, including high-definition (HD) video on demand, interactive gaming, cable TV and high-bandwidth content.

In response to a query by Gulf Times, Qtel director (Public Relations) Fatima Sultan al-Kuwari said: “We are in the final testing stage of the 4G LTE mobile broadband network, and are expecting to begin commercial launch in Doha in the coming months. Our aim is to deliver the best possible customer experience of 4G LTE, so we are investing all our efforts into the testing phase - when we are satisfied that our service will be the best in the region, we will formally announce a launch date.”

During this testing period so far, Qtel said it had “gained tremendous positive feedback” from customers who have used its network and devices.

The 4G LTE network provides speeds that are three-to-six times as fast as the current 3G network, enabling customers to instantaneously access high-bandwidth content. Customers are able to watch high-definition video, transfer large files, view multimedia-rich websites and use interactive mobile apps.

“We have delivered consistently fast speeds across Doha, and are confident the service will be a success when it is launched,” Fatima said.

Vodafone Qatar revealed it would “launch a trial of LTE in the very near future”.

“Vodafone Qatar will bring the vast experience and expertise of Vodafone Group in this field with plans to start rolling out state-of-the-art LTE capability in Qatar aiming to have commercial launch for the first half of next year,” Vodafone Qatar’s spokesperson told Gulf Times.

“This should coincide with the availability of more mature devices and services that will allow customers to experience the full benefit of LTE technology. In this way Vodafone can assure customers a smooth, continuous and evolved customer experience,” the spokesperson added.

Qtel had earlier said its QR200mn LTE project would deliver mobile speeds of up to 150 Mbps and support a knowledge-based economy.

Under the Qtel 4G LTE project, some 900 base stations will be deployed across the country, delivering the best penetration for 4G coverage in the GCC region. “Implementation will begin immediately, adding to the strength and speed of Qtel’s broadband network, which is already one of the best in the region.”

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