Emirates Telecommunications Corp (etisalat) on Sunday launched a high-speed long-term evolution mobile broadband network in the United Arab Emirates.
The former monopoly will provide LTE, also known as 4G, in the UAE's major cities, it said at a press conference in Abu Dhabi.
LTE allows for download speeds more than double that of previous mobile networks and Etisalat's move follows similar announcements by three Saudi Arabia operators earlier this month, with carriers betting on increased demand for mobile data to offset ebbing mobile subscriber growth.
Etisalat has spent Dh6 billion ($1,63 billion) on its local LTE and fibre optic network, acting Chief Executive Nasser bin Obood said at the conference.
Nasser Bin Obood, Acting CEO, etisalat, said 4G (LTE) has tremendous potential and capabilities in enhancing customer experience.
The LTE network offers speeds exceeding 100 MB/s and is particularly effective when utilising large amounts of data, such as watching high definition movies, playing online multiplayer games, using social applications and utilising other bandwidth-intensive applications.
Bin Obood said that the corporation has completed building the first 4G LTE-FDD network in the country and the widest in the Middle East. More than 700 base stations have been renovated and equipped to provide 4G services in the country. Etisalat is planning up to 1,000 fully operational base stations by the end of this year.
The technology is integrated with the fibre optics network, and follows etisalat's recent announcement about Abu Dhabi being the first capital city in the world that is entirely connected to the fibre optics. The ongoing work aims to continue to cover the entire UAE with this network, which offers tremendous potential in terms of fixed internet services, offering speeds of up to 100MB/s, advanced high definition TV services (IPTV2) and a fixed landline.
"Advanced telecommunications are a key basis for a developed society, and this 4G network can contribute to developing various sectors including education, finance, healthcare as well as the economic and business sectors, the latter of which will be a direct beneficiary of 4G," Bin Obood concluded.
Matthew Willsher, Chief Marketing Officer for etisalat, pointed out that: "In recent times, there has been a tremendous surge in both, subscriber numbers and data usage. Smartphones are growing at almost 90 percent a year. A whole new computing platform for mobile broadband has emerged, creating a thriving market for mobile apps - and changing the way we interact with the Internet.
"LTE technology will deliver customers the dual benefits of super fast data speeds and much lower latency. It is a transformational force that will improve the digital lifestyles of our customers," Willsher added.