x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Fast internet connections to get faster with 4G for du

UAE telecom operator du is developing its 4G wireless network to be rolled out later this year and give UAE residents super-fast access to the mobile web.

Du is moving towards adopting 4G in the UAE. Galen Clarke/The National
Du is moving towards adopting 4G in the UAE. Galen Clarke/The National

UAE residents already enjoy some of the fastest mobile internet wireless connections in the world, but even these speeds could be overtaken by the end of the year.

The telecommunications operator du, based in Dubai, is in the process of choosing the provider of its next-generation "4G" wireless network by the end of the first quarter, says the head of its network department.

The 4G wireless technology, also known as long-term evolution (LTE), is increasingly being adopted by mobile operators worldwide as demand for faster wireless connectivity grows.

With 4G, wireless speeds of about 1 gigabyte per second can be reached, or more than 20 times the maximum speed available at present in the UAE.

"We have agreed with a number of suppliers to do testing and … test under a number of scenarios," said Hatem Bamatraf, the senior vice president for network development at du.

"It's a wonderful technology," he said. "It will add a lot of enhancement to the broadband experience and provide more bandwidth with less latency, so you could access the web much faster than you can now. Plus, it adds efficiencies to us from a network perspective."

Nokia Siemens Networks, Ericsson and the Chinese firms Huawei and ZTE are all shortlisted for du's LTE upgrade.

Mr Bamatraf said he expected the connections would be available commercially this year, but could not specify a particular date.

"There will be some challenges with the roll-out because it is a different technology, it's a different spectrum, it's a different equipment and it's different carriers," he said. "Even additional electrical wires will have to be added to enhance the current networks."

But the next-generation connections from du will be located mainly in certain "hotspots" throughout the UAE, where they make more commercial sense.

"We don't expect to go 100 per cent across the country, like the 3G [network]," said Mr Namatraf. "The strategy in the industry is that LTE is a data service.

"There will be areas such as the TECOM areas or Jumeirah or the shopping malls that will have it. You won't need it along the roads because you won't need to use such fast data while you're driving."

Sadly, using these ultra-fast speeds is likely to be limited to laptops for the near future. Only laptop dongles can handle LTE technology, as mobile handsets capable of doing so are not yet available here.

dgeorgecosh@thenational.ae