x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Etisalat plans to more than double size of network

4G for the UAE: Etisalat plans to more than double the scale of its 4G network in the UAE over the next year.

Etisalat plans to more than double the scale of its 4G mobile-data network over the next 12 months.

High-speed internet connections will be available in most areas of key cities such as Abu Dhabi and Dubai upon the consumer launch of the service next month.

But the UAE telecommunications operator plans to more than double the number of 4G sites it uses to create high-speed internet coverage, using what is known as long-term evolution (LTE) technology.

"Currently we have more than 600 sites built over the UAE," said Saeed Al Zarouni, the senior vice president of mobile engineering at Etisalat.

"We're expecting before the end of the year that we will have around 1,000 sites to cover the whole UAE. And by next year to have 1,600 to 1,700 sites. Our teams are on the ground, in the field building sites. Every day, there are LTE sites coming on air."

Mr Al Zarouni said Etisalat planned to provide 4G internet in buildings as well as outdoor locations.

"We are moving towards covering more than 400 buildings by early next year," he said.

Etisalat said the 4G network was part of a Dh6 billion (US$1.6bn) investment in infrastructure.

"Our approximate Dh6bn investment in LTE and fibre-optic network is a long-term investment for the country," said Nasser bin Obood, the acting chief executive of Etisalat.

Etisalat executives declined to specify the proportion of that Dh6bn investment was spent on the LTE network. However, it is believed the cost was relatively small compared to the fibre-optic network.

Dirk Busse, a mobile broadband solution architect at the telecoms infrastructure firm Nokia Siemens Networks, said the UAE's 4G network used different frequencies to those launched recently in Saudi Arabia.

He said it was important telecoms companies invested in providing reception in indoor, as well as outdoor locations.

"Statistics show that 85 per cent of data and 70 per cent of voice traffic is generated in-building," said Mr Busse. "Therefore designing and delivering these services can be a challenge."