Zain planning 2,000 5G towers in initial rollout

Mobile operators in Saudi Arabia have been accelerating the deployment of 5G networks across the Kingdom during the second half of 2019 after the government awarded spectrum for the provision of this technology.

In November, Middle East telecom group Zain announced the official launch of commercial 5G operations in Saudi Arabia.

Zain said that the first phase of its 5G rollout program stipulates the deployment of a network of 2,000 towers that cover an area of more than 20 cities across Saudi Arabia.

The carrier added that this initial deployment will be followed by a gradual expansion of the network to cover a total of 26 Saudi cities utilizing 2,600 towers by the end of 2019.

Zain had acquired 100 megahertz of spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band at a total value of SAR624 million (USD166 million) The frequencies, which will be valid for 15 years, will be available for 5G use from January 1, 2020.

Zain also highlighted that the deployment of this technology across Saudi Arabia is expected to contribute towards realizing the digital transformation goals specified in the Saudi Vision 2030.

The Middle East operator said that 5G will bring substantial change for the Kingdom’s telecom industry, creating new business models and unlocking opportunities for many sectors such as financial, ICT, agricultural, tourism, entertainment, automotive, health, education and public sectors, among others.

The 5G service will provide prepaid and post-paid customers with high-speed internet connectivity and  will also allow customers to utilize advanced digital solutions and technologies, including virtual and augmented reality, Automated System Operations, 3D printing, and robotics, Zain said.

In June 2019, Nokia had announced a three-year 5G deal with Zain in Saudi Arabia for the deployment of the latter’s 5G infrastructure. The deal stipulated the use of 2.6 GHz and 3.5 GHz, along with massive Multiple Input Multiple Output (mMIMO) to deliver enhanced network capacity, coverage, and improved downlink and uplink speeds. Under the terms of the deal, Nokia said it will use the  E-Band microwave in certain areas to allow for ultra-high-capacity backhaul networks.

Nokia said that the agreement with Zain included Nokia AirScale radio platform; Nokia Wavence’s E-band microwave radio with multi-frequency carrier aggregation, to support multi-gigabit capacities and low-latency microwave transport; Nokia NetGuard Security Management solution to ensure a highly secure 5G network as well as Nokia’s turnkey services including covering network planning, integration, implementation, project management, logistics and technical support.

Rival carrier Saudi Telecom Company (STC) had officially launched 5G services in Saudi Arabia in June. The company currently offers 5G services through 100MHz of spectrum in the 3.5GHz band.

In February 2019, STC and Nokia had signed an agreement to deploy a 5G network using Nokia’s end-to-end 5G solutions. Nokia’s equipment, software and services will be used to set up a 5G network in the western and southern parts of Saudi Arabia, including Makkah and Madinah. The rollout phase is  expected to be completed by the end of 2020. The network will feature 5G Massive MIMO technology and five component TD-FDD LTE carrier aggregation (CA).

STC is also using Ericsson commercial hardware and solutions including radio access network (RAN), packet core, transport, and Ericsson Network Manager. The network modernization – comprising latest wireless and fixed broadband technologies, boosted speed and 5G deployment – will operate on a 3.5 GHZ band.

In February 2018, STC had inked a deal with Chinese vendor Huawei to collaborate in the field of 5G wireless networks and technology. Also, in March 2018, STC signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Cisco Systems to develop the 5G networks across the Kingdom.

The post Saudi carriers accelerate deployment of comercial 5G networks appeared first on RCR Wireless News.


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