Lebanon gets new 4G LTE-Advanced network

Faster broadband speeds are coming to Lebanon as consumers get ready for the country’s first 4G LTE-Advanced network.

The new network offers download speeds up to approximately 260 Mb per second, combining multiple spectrums in order to improve efficiency.

The project is a partnership between Nokia and Alfa, a Lebanese company managed by Orascom Telecom, Media and Technology (OTMT). While rolling out the new 4G-LTE-A network, the two companies have also signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on the possibilities for 4G and beyond, looking toward a future 5G network, and technologies poised to take advantage of the Internet of things model.

Officials and business representatives are excited about how the new network will bring better functionality for the nation’s many data users.

“The deployment of Lebanon’s first 4.5G or LTE-Advanced network carries much significance to Alfa, the Lebanese Ministry of Telecommunications (MoT) as well as the Lebanese end users and enterprises.” Roger Ghorayeb, Nokia’s customer team regional head for growth, told the Gulf News Journal Friday. “This technology brings a list of advantages as well as opportunities to the members of the information and communications technology (ICT) ecosystem in the country.”

Ghorayeb referenced a “data explosion” — where up to 74 percent of users in Lebanon are data users.

“The high speed and high capacity mobile broadband technology comes in as a necessity for mobile operators in order to cope with the demand.” Ghorayeb said. “They can utilize the opportunity by modernizing their infrastructure and launching new data services and bundles.”

Ghorayeb cited a Pew Research Center survey showing the majority of Lebanese adults have smartphones, and a market survey that showed 96 percent of Lebanese respondents use social media or messaging at least once per day, putting Lebanon far beyond countries like the UAE with 81 percent, and Saudi Arabia with 77 percent, as well as Qatar with 69 percent.

Ghorayeb said the new network offering builds on an established track record of offering innovative services to customers

“When 3G services were launched in November 2011, the use of Internet in Lebanon hit new highs.” Ghorayeb said. “The new technology was extremely appealing to the consumers, increasing the number of mobile broadband subscribers by 158 percent.”

In 2012, he said, mobile broadband services saw another yearly surge in demand by 173 percent, and by 2013, more than 50 percent of mobile subscribers had already a mobile data plan. At the end of June 2014 mobile broadband subscriptions rose by almost 16 percent from December 2013’s level.

“Innovative new mobile services such as the 4G LTE services were launched in May 2013.” Ghorayeb said. “It is worth mentioning that the MoT’s measure to cut tariffs increased the demand for 3G and 4G data services rather than boosting the total number of mobile subscribers.”

Ghorayeb also talked about small cells that will help to improve network capacity in local network areas.

“LTE Small Cells are used to overcome coverage and capacity challenges in scattered locations.” Ghorayeb said. “The need for such equipment will be visible more as the LTE-A rollout progresses and as the optimization of the deployed network matures.”

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