Displaying items by tag: Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia’s Etihad Etisalat (Mobily), in collaboration with Nokia, has successfully conducted a trial of LTE to the Home (LTTH) and implemented it using FastMile technology to enable LTE technology on a 4G network and become available on 2G networks. This comes out of Mobily’s interest to provide the best speeds for its customers with high quality.

“We have a long and fruitful relationship with Nokia, and this successful trial starts a new chapter in our association, through applying FastMile Nokia technology that will enable Mobily to extend the reach of our network in new areas. At the same time, it will allow us to use the existing infrastructure thus helping us to control our expenditure,” said Alaa Malki – CNO, Mobily.

Such contributions from Mobily are due to it being a leading company in the field of telecom and IT in Saudi Arabia, and out of its pursuit to implement the latest technologies for the benefit of its customers to enjoy high quality services in line with current and future technological developments.

“We are pleased to work with Mobily on this trial and support their plans to provide best-in-class broadband services to their subscribers,” said Tony Awad, Head of Mobily Customer Team, Nokia. “With this deployment, Mobily will be able to attract new customers who are currently unable to enjoy broadband services. Nokia FastMile will also allow them to minimize the deployment cost by utilizing the existing mobile infrastructure.”

Published in Telecom Operators

Nokia and Zain Saudi Arabia are deploying Nokia's FastMile technology to provide a superior customer experience to Zain's customers. The deployment, the first for Nokia FastMile in the Middle East and Africa region, follows a successful trial of the technology which recorded speeds of 20 Mbps - significant considering the current demands on 4G networks - and provided seamless 4G macro network coverage to reach users located in a challenging environment.

Zain is deploying the technology in the western and southern region of the country and also in the cities of Jeddah and Makkah. Interestingly, the FastMile solution will not only be deployed in the typical rural environments, but more in suburban areas, where no fiber or copper network is available, using the 1800 MHz band.

"We are enthusiastic about the success of the Nokia FastMile trial and the subsequent deployment of the technology, which will help us address the problem of poor in-house coverage and provide a much-improved user experience,” said Eng. Sultan Abdulaziz AlDeghaither, Chief Technology Officer, Zain Saudi Arabia. “We are committed to providing the best-in-class quality of experience to our customers, and this project is a key step in that direction."

Service providers usually struggle with in-house coverage in a 4G network. Nokia FastMile allows them to improve in-house coverage and provide ultra-fast mobile broadband speeds to end-users by cost effectively re-using an existing macro network infrastructure. In this case, the increase in throughput will enable Zain to build additional revenue streams by launching new and innovative services, as well as help attract new subscribers.

"This deployment starts a new chapter in our longstanding relationship with Zain. We look forward to working with them to deliver a better broadband experience,” said Ali Al Jitawi, head of the Zain Saudi Arabia customer team at Nokia. “FastMile provides operators with an innovative way to re-use existing networks to meet growing broadband requirements. This deployment reinforces Zain's technology leadership, allowing it to use the latest technology solutions to meet the requirements of their customers."

Published in Telecom Operators

Etihad Etisalat (Mobily) in Saudi Arabia reported a Q3 loss, blaming a requirement introduced last year that customers had to register their fingerprint with SIM cards. The company’s net losses increased by 5 percent to 174.5 million riyals ($46.53 million) it said in a statement to the Saudi bourse. Revenue also dropped 4.3 percent to 2.8 billion riyals.

Mobily said introducing the fingerprint registration rule led to an “erosion” of its customer base. The requirement was introduced last year by the Communications and Information Technology Commission, who instructed all SIM cards issued in Saudi Arabia to be linked to a fingerprint record held at the National Information Center.

Mobily competes with Saudi Telecom Company (STC) and Zain Saudi Arabia in the kingdom. In September, Mobily and Zain Saudi paid the first installments (30 percent of the total amount) for the acquisition of additional spectrum in the 1800MHz band. The new spectrum will be valid for fifteen years, after it goes into effect on January 1, 2018.

Mobily paid SAR126.9 (US$33 million) for its first payment installment and Zain KSA paid SAR 253.8 million (US$68 million), before the deadline of September 11. The fees must be paid in equal installments (7 percent of the total each) over ten years, with the first installment due in 2019.

Published in Finance

Nokia and Zain Saudi Arabia have successfully completed the Middle East's first trial of LTE-Unlicensed, combining unlicensed spectrum in the 5GHz frequency band with 1800 MHz spectrum to deliver a downlink speed of 223 megabits per second.

Following the trial, the Nokia technology will be deployed in hotspots, for example, in malls and cafes in Jeddah and around the Holy Mosque in Makkah. The project to develop the use of LTE-U in the Kingdom marks an important step for Zain to offer a superior subscriber experience using unlicensed spectrum.

“There has been exponential growth in the demand for high-speed mobile broadband services,” said Eng. Sultan Abdulaziz AlDeghaither, Chief Technology Officer, Zain Saudi Arabia. “This trial with the support of our longstanding and trusted partner, Nokia, is an important step in our commitment to adopt the latest technological solutions to provide innovative and best possible services to our subscribers. It will also give us a crucial competitive edge.”

Service providers like Zain are looking to technology innovation to serve the ever-increasing data needs of their customers. LTE-U is one such approach, combining traditional LTE with LTE in unlicensed 5 GHz spectrum to enable service providers deliver exceptional service quality without significantly increasing their spectrum expenses.

Small cells are integral to successfully utilizing unlicensed LTE, and Nokia's Flexi Zone multiband small cell technology will support Zain in significantly increasing downlink data rates for mobile devices while also enhancing mobility, security, and the reliability of 4G/LTE connections.

“The trial underlines Nokia's technological excellence and innovation, as well as its commitment to ensuring service providers can provide the best experience to their customers,” said Ali Al Jitawi, head of the Zain Saudi Arabia customer team at Nokia. “This deployment will enable Zain to enhance the in-building quality of its service without increasing expenditure.”

Published in Telecom Operators

Nokia and Zain Saudi Arabia have taken a significant step towards the creation of an IoT ecosystem in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with the successful trial of NB-IoT (Narrowband Internet of Things) technology at a live site in Mina area of Makkah Province.

"This Saudi-first IoT trial in a live network again shows our strong commitment to bring new services to make people's lives more comfortable and productive,” said Eng. Sultan Abdulaziz AlDeghaither, Chief Technology Officer, Zain Saudi Arabia. “It has been a fruitful, decade-long journey with our longtime partner Nokia in transforming telecom services in Saudi Arabia, and now this successful joint trial accelerates our initiatives in building smart cities across the Kingdom including Riyadh and Jeddah."

In the trial - which used smart metering as a potential use case - NB-IoT was applied to communicate temperature, humidity and air pressure from a remote location via a Nokia LTE base station at 900 MHz, demonstrating the role NB-IoT could play in applications such as smart metering for electricity departments, smart parking and smart waste management. The trial follows the MoU signed by Nokia and Zain Saudi Arabia to collaborate on 5G and IoT development.

"This trial is the first step in utilizing Zain's country-wide LTE network assets to create a cost-efficient IoT ecosystem and introduce new services,” said Ali Al Jitawi, head of the Zain Saudi Arabia customer team at Nokia. “NB-IoT will help connect numerous devices, opening revenue opportunities in many verticals including transport, manufacturing, healthcare, energy, agriculture and home appliances."

 NB-IoT is a 3GPP Release 13 radio access technology designed to enable connectivity to IoT devices. The technology works in almost any environment, with its strong coverage capability connecting devices in hard-to-reach locations and its use of existing mobile networks allowing for the transfer of small data packets securely and reliably. In addition, with NB-IoT's very low power consumption, device battery life can last about 10 years.

In the NB-IoT trial, data was transferred using Nokia's LTE radio platform Flexi Multiradio 10 Base Station and Nokia's professional services expertise, including system integration, network implementation, and care services.

Zain KSA and Nokia signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in April 2016 to collaborate on a major initiative that will transform Jeddah into a model for smart cities in the country and worldwide by 2018.

Published in Telecom Operators

Saudi Arabia’s second and third largest mobile operators, Etihad Etisalat (Mobily) and Zain Saudi Arabia have reportedly paid the first installments (30 percent of the total amount) for the acquisition of additional spectrum in the 1800MHz band. The new spectrum will be valid for fifteen years, after it goes into effect on January 1, 2018.

Mobily paid SAR126.9 (US$33 million) for its first payment installment and Zain KSA paid SAR 253.8 million (US$68 million), before the deadline of September 11. The fees must be paid in equal installments (7 percent of the total each) over ten years, with the first installment due in 2019.

According to TeleGeography, CITC, the Saudi communications and IT regulator, awarded the additional 1800MHz spectrum to Zain and Mobily in June this year, following an auction held on May 23. Zain KSA was awarded 2x10MHz in the 1800MHz band for SAR844 million and Mobily gained a 2x5MHz paired block in the 1800MHz band for SAR422 million.

Published in Finance

Saudi Arabia to lift block on internet video calling

Written on Sunday, 24 September 2017 12:15

Internet video calling services like WhatsApp, Skype and Viber, will be available to use in Saudi Arabia next week, after coordination between the Communications and Information Technology Commission and telecommunications service providers to allow applications that provide voice communications over the internet.

Communications and Information Technology Minister, H.E. Eng. Abdullah Alswaha, said the commitment had been confirmed by the cooperating parties to enable internet users in the kingdom to use applications to make high quality voice and video calls, under the condition that all applications are reviewed every so often.

“This fruitful cooperation between the kingdom’s telecoms partners comes under the umbrella of ‘Customer First’,” the Minister said, “a policy in which everyone works in order to give all telecom subscribers in the kingdom the best services that meet their expectations and satisfy their needs.”

Saudi Arabia has previously taken steps to improve customer service and create more transparency in the telecom sector, including the introduction of the quarterly index of complaints filed by subscribers to telecommunications providers.

More initiatives by the Commission are set to unfold in partnership with telecom providers, according to Arab News, to improve the sector and customer experience, in line with Saudi Vision 2030, a plan to reduce the kingdom’s dependence on oil, diversify its economy, and become a more digital, customer-centric society.   

Published in Government

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 Reports

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

Huawei launched its largest Middle East-based Innovation Center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on July 31, in the presence of H.E. Dr. Abdulaziz Bin Salem Al Ruwais, Governor of the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) and H.E. Li Huanxin, the Chinese Ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

The Customer Solution innovation and Integration Experience Center (CSIC) was inaugurated on behalf of H.E. Dr. Majid Alkabassi, Minister of Commerce and Investment, by His Excellency’s Advisor to Minister of Commerce and Investment, Governor of Small & Medium Enterprises General Authority Dr. Ghassan Alsulaiman.

With more than 1,200 square meters of floor space in Riyadh, CSIC will accelerate the digital transformation of the Saudi economy by providing an open ecosystem for innovation. The center will allow industry partners to experience, architect, validate and build solutions, verify new business models, customize applications and services to sectors such as utility, energy, transportation, education, government amongst others that support the transformation to a digital economy, bringing tremendous knowledge-based economy benefits.

“The launch of Huawei’s CSIC in Riyadh is a step forward to support the Saudi V2030 vision and the digitization plan, which play a big role in diversifying the Kingdom’s economy,” said H.E. Dr. Alsulaiman commenting on the CSIC launch.

“Huawei is not only one of China's outstanding home-grown companies, but also the world's leading ICT company,” said His Excellency Mr. Li Huaxin, the Chinese Ambassador to Saudi Arabia. “Huawei is a forerunner in enhancing the economic and trade cooperation between China and Saudi Arabia.”

Huawei’s advanced technology solutions have been widely used, he said, in various sectors and industries, making positive contributions not only to the development of the Saudi ICT sector but also to the development of the national economy.

“Today, we see that Huawei is actively pursuing social responsibility in order to support the vision of Saudi national innovation,” said Huanxin. “The company is also training more ICT talent to further the transformation of the national economy. It is truly a very commendable step. The integration of Saudi 2030 vision and China’s ‘belt and road’ initiative will bring unlimited opportunities for business and cooperation between the two countries. I believe and hope that Huawei will continue to play a leading role in the kingdom.”

“We are honored to have His Excellency inaugurate one of the largest CSIC for Huawei in the region,” said Mr.Li Xiangyu (Space Lee), Vice President of Public Affairs and Communications, Huawei Middle East.

“This launch confirms our commitment to the Saudi people and supports the Kingdom’s 2030 vision, which places great emphasis on innovation in the ICT sector. The center will provide both government entities and enterprises in Saudi Arabia with access to a world class facility and labs that enable them to experience the latest technologies and Huawei innovation first-hand. Huawei prides itself in successfully implementing experience gained from 170 markets around the world to guarantee the greatest benefit and value in Saudi Arabia.”

On his part, H.E. Dr. Abdulaziz Bin Salem Al Ruwais, Governor of CITC, extended thanks and appreciation to Huawei for establishing the Huawei Regional Customer Solution Innovation and Integration Experience Center and providing solutions in training for Saudis in the ICT sector, and strongly believes that ICT companies in Saudi Arabia play an important role in developing this vibrant sector.

In addition to catering to government and enterprise customers, the CSIC will play an active role in promoting innovation amongst youth as the center opens its doors to school and university students. Huawei and universities in Saudi Arabia will be organizing the ICT Skills and Innovation Competition, which aims to provide a stage for aspiring youth to showcase their ideas and concepts, with the winners enrolled in internship programs at Huawei.

Published in Telecom Vendors
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