Displaying items by tag: STC

VIVA ranked Kuwait’s fastest mobile network

Written on Tuesday, 31 October 2017 12:14

STC subsidiary VIVA Kuwait has been recognized as "Speedtest Award Winner 2017 – Kuwait's Fastest Mobile Network", based on Ookla's analysis of Speedtest Intelligence data in 2017, in Kuwait. Eng. Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Badran, VIVA's CEO, received the award from Mr. Alan Kerrigan, Ookla Director, at VIVA's Headquarters.

Al-Badran commented: "Reaping such privilege proves our exceptional performance and the high quality standards our professionals are providing to our customers. We endeavor at VIVA to foster our leadership in the telecom market with our innovative products, services and network that meet our customers' aspirations."

The Speedtest Award for top providers in speed is determined using a Speed Score that incorporates a measure of each provider's download and upload speed to rank network speed performance. 

Speedtest® by Ookla® is a definitive way to measure internet performance. With billions of active uses to date, Speedtest is the dominant global leader in internet performance testing and metrics.  Ookla's mission is to help build a better and faster internet.

The technology behind Speedtest is purpose-built for accurate and unbiased internet performance testing, which empowers people all over the world to gauge and troubleshoot the speed of their internet connections.

Published in Telecom Operators

Saudi Arabia’s Hajj becomes safer and smarter

Written on Sunday, 10 September 2017 11:37

Saudi Arabia receives around 1.75 million pilgrims from around the world for the annual Islamic Hajj and Umrah pilgrimage to Mecca. Making necessary arrangements each year for the growing number of pilgrims poses a logistic challenge for the government, as well as telecom providers striving to cater to the dense crowds. The solution, according to reports, has been the implementation of smart connectivity.

Hajj pilgrim numbers have steadily increased in recent years which have led to numerous accidents and deaths due to overcrowding. In 2015, a stampede resulted in 769 deaths and injuries to 934 others, according to Saudi authorities. The Associated Press totaled at least 1,470 fatalities from official reports from other countries, making it the most deadly Hajj incident to date.

But the Hajj is a major revenue driver for Saudi Arabia, raking in around $8.5 billion in 2014. It’s the kingdom’s highest source of revenue after oil and gas, and the country is expected to depend more on the event as oil and gas sales decline. Saudi Vision 2030 is Saudi Arabia’s plan to reduce its dependence on oil by diversifying its economy and developing service sectors.

Introducing more connectivity and smart solutions, it seems, has made the Hajj pilgrimage a lot safer the past two years in Saudi Arabia, and a much more seamless experience for those involved. In 2016, for example, Saudi authorities issued electronic bracelets to pilgrims containing personal and medical information to assist authorities caring for and identifying people, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The water-resistant bracelets, developed by British security firm G4S, are connected to GPS and contain crucial information such as passport numbers and addresses, and also useful information to worshippers, such as timings of prayers, and a multi-lingual help desk to guide non-Arabic speakers around the event. The high-tech measure, G4S said, would help Saudi authorities provide care “and identify people.”

Wearable technology company Daira Tech also pledged its services to make Hajj and Umrah “safer and simpler” by developing its own connected bracelet called ‘Hajj Guider’, which provides tracking, voice communications and an emergency/panic button. The company’s smartphone app allows users to navigate offline, setup groups, track friends and family, and create custom geo fences.

Since the 1950s, Saudi Arabia has spent over $100 billion to increase pilgrimage facilities, according to the Encyclopedia of Islam. The government has addressed and improved major issues such as housing transportation, sanitation and healthcare, with the result that pilgrims now enjoy modern facilities and perform rites at ease.  

Saudi authorities reportedly installed more than 800 surveillance cameras at the Grand Mosque in Mecca linked to control rooms staffed by Special Forces monitoring pilgrim movements during Hajj rituals to ensure maximum safety and security.

Live crowd analytics software has also been implemented by authorities, which is not only able to spot incidents happening in crowds, but can also predict where overcrowding is likely to happen. Authorities can analyze live data that feeds into an operations room. The software, developed by London-based CrowdVision, provides real-time feedback on crowd numbers, densities, and so on.

“Crowds can be dangerous places. Whether triggered by factions within the crowd, by natural disasters or misguided crowd managers, there is a long history of crushes, stampedes and failed evacuations," said CrowdVision co-founder Fiona Strens. "[The software] spots patterns of crowd behavior that indicate potential danger such as high densities, pressure, turbulence, stop-and-go waves and other anomalies.”

Improved telecom services

Busy public events like Hajj create challenges not only for government, but also for telecom operators, as many people attempt to access mobile networks at the same time. Saudi Arabia’s telecom providers, in response to the growing number of Hajj pilgrims, have stepped up their game for the event by providing premium connectivity for all.

Saudi Telecom Company (STC), the kingdom’s largest telecom provider, increased Wi-Fi coverage in Mecca and Holy sites this year to prepare for the Hajj pilgrimage. The increased coverage extends to tunnels, bridges, and a number of public utilities in Mina.

STC increased Wi-Fi by 206 percent compared to last year, it said. The increase enabled a high speed of data to flow to pilgrims and workforces. The company said it dedicated all of its technical and human capabilities “to serve pilgrims coming to the country.” STC even announced a special offer for the first time with "SAWA Ziyara" SIM cards, that were specialized for this year’s Hajj season.

Saudi Arabia’s second largest telecom provider, Etihad Etisalat (Mobily), also made exceptional connectivity preparations to cater for the needs of Hajj pilgrims this year. The company said it increased data capacity by 50 percent through 4G in Holy areas to improve data services.  

Mobily also provided over 1,300 Wi-Fi access points with a capacity of 2,080 MB per second in the Holy areas of Mina, Arafat, and Muzdalifah, it said. Additionally, the telecom provider set up more than 1,000 fixed and mobile communication towers in Mecca and other Holy places.

The company, partly owned by UAE’s Etisalat Group, recently signed an agreement to develop its mobile network in different regions around the Kingdom with Nokia, Huawei and Ericsson. The agreement comes in line with Saudi Vision 2030 and its objectives that focus on developing Saudi Arabia’s telecom and IT sector, said Eng. Ahmed Aboudoma, CEO of Mobily.   

Mobily’s Chief Technology Officer and Head of Hajj Committee, Eng. Maziad Alharbi, said the company feels “honored to be one of the national companies working in serving pilgrims every year.”

Efforts to increase connectivity for Hajj have also been undertaken by Zain Saudi Arabia, a subsidiary of Kuwait’s Zain Group, which announced in May this year that it had deployed Nokia’s Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) platform for the delivery of smart applications to subscribers heading to Mecca. The new solution enabled Zain subscribers to navigate crowded areas safely.

Zain Saudi Arabia’s Sultan Al Deghaither, Chief Technology Officer, said the company had invested in modernizing its network in the Hajj area. “The deployment of the Nokia MEC platform and two smart Hajj applications on this network is yet another milestone in our evolution toward building smart cities in the kingdom,” he said.

Following the successful trial during the 2016 Hajj, Nokia and Zain deployed the Nokia Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) platform together with Edge Video Orchestration over the network using both macro and small cell base stations to enhance the experience for Zain's subscribers.

The Nokia MEC platform allows applications to be hosted closer to the edge of the network, therefore closer to subscribers, to efficiently use network resources and open up new opportunities for the delivery of tailored services in high-traffic locations. By combining MEC with Edge Video Orchestration, video feeds can be efficiently broadcast to multiple subscribers' devices simultaneously with millisecond latency.

During Hajj, subscribers could download and use two site-specific applications over the MEC-enabled network, including ‘Zain People Finder’ which helps to easily navigate crowds and locate people; and the ‘Live Hajj’ app which allows users to view video streams from the Al Rahmah Mountain, to identify the best time of day to perform the 'flinging of the pebbles' ritual.

“We are pleased to work with Zain to provide the benefits of using MEC to deliver a differentiated experience at such an important event,” said Ali Al Jitawi, head of the Zain Saudi Arabia Customer Team at Nokia.

Nokia also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with STC this year to collaborate on the development of 5G and IoT use cases in Saudi Arabia. Under the terms of the MoU, Nokia and STC will carry out trials of technologies such as 4.5G Pro and 4.9G, key steps on the path to 5G to build the capacity and throughput speeds needed for new applications.

The collaboration will play an important role in STC’s digitalization transformation and its support of Saudi Arabia’s 2030 Vision, which includes a strategic and comprehensive plan to develop the Hajj sector so as to allow the largest number of Muslims possible to attend.  

Published in Featured

STC increases Wi-Fi coverage 206% for Hajj pilgrims

Written on Sunday, 10 September 2017 08:57

Saudi Telecom Company (STC) said it increased Wi-Fi coverage in Makkah and Holy Sites to prepare for pilgrims traveling to Saudi Arabia for the annual Hajj. The coverage includes tunnels, bridges, and a number of public utilities in Mina which received pilgrims to start their Tarwiah day on August 30.

The Hajj is the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, the holiest city for Muslims, and a mandatory religious duty for Muslims that can be carried out at least once in their lifetime. Pilgrim numbers have increased in recent years, which have led to numerous accidents and deaths due to overcrowding.

Still, it’s a major revenue driver for Saudi Arabia, bringing in an expected $8.5 billion in 2014. Saudi Arabia’s highest source of revenue after oil and gas is the Hajj and the country is expected to depend more on the event as the amounts of available oil and gas for sale decline.

Vision 2030 is the nation’s plan to reduce its dependence on oil by diversifying its economy, developing service sectors such as health, education, infrastructure, recreation and tourism. Playing to the needs of the country, STC, Saudi Arabia’s largest telecom provider, announced it would increase Wi-Fi spots around Makkah and Madinah 206 percent compared to last year.

The increase enables a high speed of data to flow to pilgrims and workforces of all sectors who work on STC’s service. The company said it has dedicated all of its technical and human capabilities to serve pilgrims coming to the country.

Published in Telecom Operators

Saudi Arabia’s telecommunications incumbent Saudi Telecom Company (STC) has emerged as the frontrunner to acquire a 55% stake in Turk Telecom - in a deal reportedly worth around $3.9 billion. Oger Telecom is the majority shareholder in Turk Telecom, but it is currently in dire straits financially - and is willingly to sell off its stake in the Turkish operator.

Sources close to both STC and Oger Telecom have claimed negotiations between the two organizations is on-going, but noted that Turkey’s government may be forced to step in if a deal between both parties is not agreed. Turk Telecom was formerly state-owned before it was privatized in 2005.

It has been reported that creditors are increasing their pressure on Oger Telecom to sell in an effort to stem its financial crisis, which has resulted in the company missing two instalments in the repayment of a $4.75 billion loan it secured in when refinancing its existing debt.

In January, it emerged that STC was mulling offer a potential move to take a direct stake in Oger Telecom who had blamed their disastrous financial performance on the strength of the Turksih Lira, which lowered dividends the company received from its stake in the Turkish telecommunications firm.

While it has been suggested there are a string of companies interested in the 55% stake, only STC entered into negotiations with a’ clear interest’ in making the acquisition. Industry commentators have suggested that if a deal between STC and Oger Telecom can’t be finalized then Turkey’s government may use a public institution to acquire the stake. 

A source close to the Turkish government stressed the importance of Turk Telecom as a company and declared that a public institution would come to the rescue if needed, the source said, “Turk Telekom is a strategic and important company. It will not be left to its fate for sure. Public institutions would intervene when needed and this option is still a matter of consideration.”

When contacted both STC and Oger Telecom declined to comment on the speculation regarding the alleged negotiations. Oger’s parent company is owned by Saudi Arabian construction colossus Saudi Oger, which also is facing a multibillion-dollar debt restructuring. Oger Telecom’s creditors have expressed that they would like to see the deal completed by September.

Turkey’s treasury sent a direct letter to Oger earlier this year after it failed to meet the two debt payments. In July the government asked some banks to find prospective buyers for the stake.

Published in Telecom Operators

Saudi Arabia’s STC shared its Q2 2017 financial results showing a 7.9 percent net income increase compared to the same period last year to reach SR 2.4 billion (US$640 million). STC Group CEO Dr. Khaled H. Biyari said the results reflect the company’s move to embrace digital transformation and Saudi Vision 2030.

“The financial results achieved for the 1st half of 2017 reflects the efforts being made to constantly evolve, improve and develop the company’s strategy and operations and achieve the best returns for the shareholders,” said Dr. Biyari in a statement. “Despite the various difficulties facing the sector, STC sponsored programs contributed to improve operational efficiency leading to improved income and margins.”

For the first half of 2017, STC’s net income reached SR 4.9 billion, an increase of 6.6% compared to same period last year. Earnings per share for the first half of 2017 grew to reach SR 2.45 compared to SR 2.30 for the comparable period last year.  

Dr. Biyari said, “The whole region is moving towards digital transformation through elements of the fourth industrial revolution, here comes the importance of governments in the region to provide the right environment and stimulate investment in digital infrastructure.”

STC embraced Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 initiative, he said, and the national transformation program 2020 through multiple initiatives, which include deployment of broadband throughout the Kingdom. Saudi Vision 2030 is a national plan to reduce the nation’s dependence on oil, diversify its economy, and develop service sectors such as health, education, infrastructure, recreation, and tourism.

STC recently signed with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology to provide high speed broadband with fiber-optic technology to more than 2 million homes projected to cost up to SR 7.3 billion.

The company will also “continue to invest in promising technologies and digital sectors, particularly in areas that enable the company to benefit from their assets and infrastructure and help enable growth and expansion of investments in different areas,” said Dr. Biyari. The latest company announcement was establishing a $500 million venture capital fund (STV) to strengthen this trend.

In accordance with the approved dividend policy for three years starting from the 4th quarter 2015 which was announced on 11 November 2015, and having been ratified during the General Assembly Meeting on April 4th 2016, STC will distribute a total of SR 2,000 million in cash dividend for Q2 2017, representing SR 1 per share. 

Published in Finance

Saudi Arabian telecoms giant Saudi Telecom Company (STC) announced the establishment of STV, a technology venture capital fund that aims to achieve its strategic growth aspirations and to help realize Vision 2030’s technological ambitions by investing in new digital areas and by growing the digital innovation ecosystem in the region.

STC believes the Middle East is witnessing a digital transformation that is full of opportunities in the digital economy and digital industries, and that the future involves drastic changes that will disrupt businesses across sectors.

The company has intentions to be a serious world-class player in the space and today STV has been approved with a size of $500 million, making it the largest institutional technology venture capital fund in the Middle East.

STC will have complete independence and will deploy independent governance and operational models that are designed in accordance with international best practices allowing it to leverage STC’s assets to enable its investments and the surrounding ecosystem to grow and scale. STC will be managed by a leading team of top regional and international talent in this field.

"We are very proud of this historic step by STC, which will be a pivotal turning point for the region's technology ecosystem," said Dr. Khaled Biyari, Chief Executive Officer of STC. "Global telecoms have two choices - to either change and evolve into digital companies or to convert into a utility. We have elected to go down the first route. STC has the potential, resources and strategic assets to make a quantum leap in the technology and entrepreneurial sectors it is working on transforming,” Biyari added.

"We believe the region can create its own future and we will invest in the next generation growth engines that will make this happen," said Abdulrahman Tarabzouni, Chief Executive Officer of STC. "The centers of gravity for growth and value across the world’s economies and industries will undergo profound transformations due to technology disruptions, and we believe STC will create value for STC and the region amidst these transformations.”

Published in Finance

Saudi Telecom Company (STC) and Huawei jointly announce the successful trial of the first 5G innovative Massive MIMO network in MENA region. STC completed the testing of the latest 3.5GHz Massive MIMO technology, which is considered as a corner stone technologies enabling core 5G services. It uses a large number of antennas and beam forming to enhance spectrum multiplexing among multiple user equipment (UEs) to improve the end user experience.

The new 5G technologies aim at providing huge capacity, better spectral efficiency and lower latency. Widespread 5G connectivity will eliminate information islands, boost the prosperity of a digitalized sharing economy, promote changes to existing production methods and lifestyles. Massive MIMO increases the cell capacity without the need for extra spectrum or additional new sites.

“STC is committed to continuous innovation to provide the best network and services for our deserving customers in the modern digitalized society,” said Eng. Nasser Al Nasser, Technology & Operations SVP, said. “This 5G partnership with Huawei is one step forward towards enabling the establishment of 5G networks and pioneering the launch of new 5G services in KSA. Continued Cooperation between STC and Huawei will surely expand the commercial use of 5G and explore further innovations, paving the way to 5G commercial deployments.”

Edward Deng, President of Huawei Wireless Network, said: "I believe that continuous technology innovation and open collaborations is the key to a successful launch of 5G network and service. As strategic partners, Huawei will continue to cooperate with STC to make strategic investments in 5G technology research and industrialization to make sure STC maintains its pioneering position in the region."

STC is committed to introducing cutting-edge technologies to fully explore the highest potential of its network resources. This deployment resulted in improvement in network performance and consequent enhancement in user experience. This landmark achievement allowed STC to assume its technology pioneering role and explore further communications innovations through the commercial deployment of 5G technologies.

Published in Telecom Operators

STC and Net Insight rollout live HD TV broadcast network

Written on Thursday, 23 March 2017 08:31

Swedish media transport and resource scheduling firm Net Insight announced the ongoing implementation of a future-proof high capacity nationwide broadcast media network for Saudi Telecommunications Company (STC) on March 20.

Advanced Communication and Electronics Systems (ACES), Net Insight’s Saudi Arabian partner, is deploying the network for TV and radio broadcast media contribution and distribution for the Saudi Broadcasting Corporation (SBC).

The network from Net Insight will utilize STC’s underlying Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) infrastructure and effectively provide a modern broadcast media network, where any broadcast media service, transported in any video or audio encoding, can be set up quickly and dynamically between sites, enabling SBC to create new and highly efficient workflows.

The new broadcast media network also helps to meet SBC’s need for higher video quality, through Net Insight’s industry leading, low latency JPEG 2000 compression for production and contribution feeds, while MPEG will be used for distribution feeds.

The network will initially be deployed for high-definition (HD) content; however it has the capability to scale up to 4K and 8K in the future. For digital audio interconnection, the network supports the AES/EBU and MADI standards. An integral part of the contracted solution is a complete range of professional services providing expertise in planning, designing and implementing the high quality network.

“This is a market making application of technology and will change the way broadcasters cover live events and the broadcast media engineering sector in general,” said Dr. Tarig M. Enaya, STC Senior Vice President of Enterprise. “Essentially, our network is almost everywhere, meaning that SBC or any broadcaster who has an agreement with them can generate a live feed from anywhere in the country. Separately, this also means that broadcast media signals will be ingested IP first from their source, meaning TV audiences will have access to amazing new viewing experiences.”

Fredrik Tumegard, CEO of Net Insight said, “Our impact and presence in the Middle East and across a number of other geographies across the world is growing. Partnerships and deployments such as the STC implementation shine a strong light on the pathway for telcos in the region to migrate further towards a more agile, on-demand, infrastructure that the entire broadcasting world is moving towards, where network capacity can be booked and services can be provisioned instantly and automatically. This is the first stage in that journey.”

The implementation is carried out through local network engineering company ACES, Net Insight’s partner in Saudi Arabia, supported by Net Insight’s professional services team. ACES are also providing managed services of the new network.

“STC’s network is now more robust and provides far greater flexibility in delivering quality media at both a lower cost and in a reliable manner, which are key goals for the company,” said Dr. Akram Aburas, CEO of ACES.

Published in Satellite Industry

Saudi Telecom Company (STC) announced cooperation agreements with its major international partners, including Huawei, Nokia, Juniper and Cisco at MWC 2017, with the aim of developing skills of future Saudi national ICT specialists. The program will help Saudi young engineers to acquire advanced technical skills needed to address the rapid development in the ICT market in KSA.

In this program, fresh graduate engineers will be selected by STC, based on carefully studied factors, including: high academic achievements, ambition, dedication, and desire to learn and lead. The trainees will subsequently undergo a versatile knowledge transfer program that lasts a minimum of eight months.

"I am very pleased to announce such a unique program for developing national talents. This innovative program is a true manifestation of STC’s commitments to its Saudi youth and is an expression of its high ambitions to deliver towards its corporate social responsibility," said Eng. Nasser Al Nasser, SVP for STC Technology & Operations.

"The digital revolution is having an enormous impact on all industries, demanding new digital skills for our workforce. We need to give our young graduates the "digital education tools" and "state-of-the-art" content and expertise in order to prepare them for a successful career in our rapidly transforming industry."

The program includes industrial orientation and directed training in fundamental soft-skills and technology foundations. This is followed by specialized training abroad with the respective partner, to be specialized in one or more of chosen ICT technology streams.

This specialized training will be conducted in different locations around the world. The last phase involves intensive practical industrial experience, based on a mentored "On-the-Job-Training" scheme. Such a valuable skill development opportunity will be a cornerstone in preparing future qualified ICT experts, as required by the ICT market-place in KSA.

This program comes as part of a continued effort towards achieving the digitalization transformation in the ICT sector in KSA, which is being addressed by the Kingdom’s 2030 Vision.

Published in Telecom Operators

The SEA-ME-WE 5 Consortium announced the completion of the 20,000-kilometer subsea cable infrastructure developed by a 16-nation consortium. The SEA-ME-WE 5 subsea cable system, spanning over 16 countries from Southeast Asia to Western Europe, is a technological breakthrough which marks a global communications milestone. It is designed with a capacity of 24 Terabits per second on 3-fibre pairs, fully capable of accommodating the future demand of data from other bandwidth-intensive applications.

The SEA-ME-WE 5 submarine cable’s advanced 100Gbps technology is expected to meet the quadrupling of bandwidth demand between Europe and Asia, providing the lowest latency and further enhancing the network diversity and resilience to the heavily loaded Asia to Europe route. In contrast with other submarine cable systems, the SEA-ME-WE 5’s main endpoints are carrier-neutral/open Points-of-Presence (PoPs) and not just Cable Landing Stations (CLS).

Eric Handa, CEO of APTelecom said in a recent industry discussion regarding new submarine fiber systems: “With the advent of increased telecommunication needs in the emerging markets, in particular the Middle East and Southeast Asia, the SEA-WE-ME 5 cable system will enable and support the tele-density increases and overall growth aspects of video, voice, data, and advanced technologies for the Gulf State communities, as well as ASEAN.”

It seems like only yesterday when Singtel completed the landing of the SEA-ME-WE 5 undersea cable at Tuas, Singapore, marking a major step towards its completion by the end of 2016.

Mr Bill Chang, Chief Executive Officer, Group Enterprise at Singtel recently said: “As a multi-regional data superhighway, the SEA-ME-WE 5 cable provides a sevenfold capacity increase along the corridor connecting Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Western Europe. It will further boost the digital economy as it is ready to meet the anticipated data traffic of emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things, analytics and cloud services.”

“With our data centers in Singapore, our global customers can gain access to an enhanced network for managed services and cyber security solutions. The SEA-ME-WE 5 cable is a significant communications backbone that reinforces Singapore’s position as a global business and info communications hub.”

“The completion of the SE-ME-WE 5 project is a landmark system upgrade for all data users worldwide. This system facilitates a new age of digital transformation and innovation, catalyzing greater economic activities, trade and growth across three continents,” noted Linette Lee, Chairperson, SEA-ME-WE 5 Consortium Management Committee. “I would like to thank all the members of the consortium for their unstinting support and commitment toward this project. Together, we collaborated across different time zones and overcame numerous challenges to achieve the complex integration of technologies as promised and on time.”

Members of the SEA-ME-WE 5 Cable consortium include:

Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Limited (BSCCL), China Mobile International (CMI), China Telecom Global (CTG), China United Network Communications Group Company Limited (CU), Djibouti Telecom (DT), Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (du), Myanmar Post and Telecom (MPT), Ooredoo, Orange, PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia International (Telin), Saudi Telecom Company (STC), Singapore Telecommunications Ltd (Singtel), Sparkle, Sri  Lanka Telecom PLC (SLT), Telecom Egypt (TE), Telekom Malaysia Berhad (TM), TeleYemen, Turk Telekom International (TTI) and Trans World Associates (Pvt) Limited Pakistan (TWA).

Published in Infrastructure
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