Saudi Mobily: $100M for Samsung WiMAX  

Reuters reported today that Saudi mobile telephone firm Etihad Etisalat (Mobily) has awarded Samsung a $100 million deal to expand the WiMax network through its broadband subsidiary, Bayanat al-Oula.

The network would be the biggest of its kind in the Middle East both in terms of geographic coverage and user capacity, said Salim Saasouh, Samsung’s Middle East and North Africa regional manager for telecoms and network business. Mobily, which bought Bayanat in 2007, would finance the expansion through a loan.

The deal would expand WiMAX service to 20 cities from the four previously covered by the firm.

“Bayanat’s existing WiMax network serves 30,000 subscribers. With this expansion, we will be able to increase Bayant’s WiMax capacity by at least three times,” said chief executive, Khaled al-Kaf. He said this makes his firm a market leader in Saudi Arabia.

Samsung will deliver 1,400 stations to increase Bayant’s overall number of WiMax stations to 1,800 and will deliver the network before the end of 2009.

According to the GSM World Association, Mobily has the busiest data network on the face of the planet, with 452,000 mobile broadband subscribers by the end of 2009’s first quarter, who consume over 30 terabytes of data a day.

Mobily competes with Saudi Telecom, the largest Arab telecom firm by market value, and Zain Saudi Arabia for mobile telephone users in the kingdom, where mobile telephone penetration exceeds 100 percent.

Meanwhile, Etihad Atheeb Telecommunication, a joint venture between Bahrain’s Batelco and the local Atheeb Trading Group, recently announced the launch of a new nationwide WiMAX 802.16e network in Saudi Arabia using Motorola gear.

Deployment of the network started in 2008, and includes Motorola’s WAP 800 access point, featuring smart antenna technology (beamforming). Service is beginning in the Saudi capital Riyadh and the Red Sea port city of Jeddah. Etihad Atheeb Telecommunication Company was formed as a new provider of fixed telecoms services in Saudi Arabia, ending Saudi Telecom’s monopoly over fixed line services in the country.

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