x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

UAE blazes trail with 4G broadband

Consumers in the UAE can expect more and cheaper electronic 4G devices after the telecoms regulator allocated high speed frequencies.

Consumers in the UAE can expect more and cheaper electronic 4G devices after the telecoms regulator opened up high-speed frequencies.

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has earmarked the 700MHz and 800MHz frequencies for the high-speed mobile broadband.

The two bandwidths, vital for the use of long-term evolution (LTE), also known as fourth generation (4G) technology, will enable faster speeds and makes the UAE more compatible with a wider range of devices such as the iPhone 5, Samsung's S4 and Nokia's Lumia 925.

"When you have a country like the UAE using spectrum that is standard and harmonised across the world it means first and foremost that the country will benefit from economies of scale," said Peter Lyons, the director of public policy of Middle East and Africa at GSMA.

"The UAE will be flooded with the latest devices at a cheaper cost, which means consumers will have more choice at less cost. It makes the UAE a better technology and business hub because people travelling from anywhere in the world will be using spectrum that will be available here."

International roaming is an important aspect of opening up the spectrums, affording travellers instant connectivity no matter which device they are using. There are three IT regions as classified by the UN's International Telecommunication Union. The Middle East, Africa and Europe are categorised as ITU Region 1, the Americas constitute Region 2 and Asia Pacific makes up Region 3. Each region uses different spectrums that may not always be compatible with the devices that manufacturers produce.

Different manufacturers use a wide range of frequencies for these new LTE devices from 700MHz to 2.5GHz.

Problems with frequency incompatibility emerged after the release of Apple's new iPad this year, which operated on the 700 megahertz band, which was not then available in the UAE.

The UAE is the first country in the ITU Region 1 to use both bands for mobile broadband.

"This is a breakthrough. Being the first country means you're blazing the trail. We expect a lot of countries will fall behind this proposal," said Mr Lyons. "The regions are converging. The 700MHz bandwidth will be used from Asia Pacific, Middle East, Africa and Latin America, it creates harmonisation across the world. Europe uses 800Mhz, this covers 2 billion users so creating devices for 2 billion people will cost less."

Cheaper devices will also allow more people on to the LTE networks, which are three to six times faster than the current 3G networks.

The faster connectivity improves efficiency and makes HD video streaming and video conference calling a possibility.

 

thamid@thenational.ae