Initial focus is on 5G for 20 cities supported by 2,000 towers
Middle East telecom group Zain has launched commercial 5G operations in Saudi Arabia, the telco said in a release.
Zain said that the first phase of its 5G rollout program stipulates the deployment of a network of 2,000 towers that cover an area of more than 20 cities across Saudi Arabia.
The carrier added that this initial deployment will be followed by a gradual expansion of the network to cover a total of 26 Saudi cities utilizing 2,600 towers by the end of 2019. The telco had previously launched commercial 5G services in Kuwait.
Zain also highlighted that the deployment of this technology across Saudi Arabia is expected to contribute towards realizing the digital transformation goals specified in the Saudi Vision 2030.
Zain Vice Chairman & Group CEO, & Zain KSA Vice Chairman, Bader Al Kharafi said: “5G will bring substantial change for the Kingdom’s telecom industry, creating new business models and unlocking opportunities for many sectors such as financial, ICT, agricultural, tourism, entertainment, automotive, health, education and public sectors, to name a few. The technology is also expected to contribute significantly to the country’s economy, creating thousands of new jobs.”
“We are keen to offer 5G services to all business and individual clients through various service packages at competitive rates,” he added.
The 5G service will provide prepaid and post-paid customers with high-speed internet connectivity and will also allow customers to utilize advanced digital solutions and technologies, including virtual and augmented reality, Automated System Operations, 3D printing, and robotics, Zain said.
5G services will also allow students and professionals to develop research activities in the artificial intelligence and virtual reality disciplines, as well as opening up new fronts for advancing various Big Data services in the Kingdom including IoT and smart services such as self-driving vehicles and smart city grids.
In June this year, Nokia had announced a three-year 5G deal with Zain in Saudi Arabia for the deployment of the latter’s 5G infrastructure.
The deal stipulated the use of 2.6 GHz and 3.5 GHz, along with massive Multiple Input Multiple Output (mMIMO) to deliver enhanced network capacity, coverage, and improved downlink and uplink speeds. Under the terms of the deal, Nokia said it will use the E-Band microwave in certain areas to allow for ultra-high-capacity backhaul networks.
Nokia said that the agreement with Zain included Nokia AirScale radio platform; Nokia Wavence’s E-band microwave radio with multi-frequency carrier aggregation, to support multi-gigabit capacities and low-latency microwave transport; Nokia NetGuard Security Management solution to ensure a highly secure 5G network as well as Nokia’s turnkey services including covering network planning, integration, implementation, project management, logistics and technical support.
Rival carrier Saudi Telecom Company (STC) and Ericsson had previously signed a deal to launch a mid-band 5G network in Saudi Arabia. The deal was announced at a signing ceremony at Mobile World Congress 2019 in Barcelona.
STC is deploying a 5G network using Ericsson commercial hardware and solutions including radio access network (RAN), packet core, transport, and Ericsson Network Manager. The network modernization – comprising latest wireless and fixed broadband technologies, boosted speed and 5G deployment – will operate on a 3.5 GHZ band.
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