Ericsson: GCC countries ahead of regional states in 4G
Teemu Salmi, vice president head of operations, Ericsson Middle East and North East Africa, says the technology could be in service in Turkey later this year
Gulf countries are ahead of their Middle Eastern counterparts in terms of LTE, or 4G, coverage and the technology could be in service in Turkey later this year, Teemu Salmi, vice president head of operations, Ericsson Middle East and North East Africa, said on Tuesday.
“We have LTE in Saudi Arabia, UAE [United Arab Emirates], Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman. Turkey is coming this year,” Salmi told Al Arabiya News on the sidelines of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
Asked when Turkey could see the technology in service, he said: “It is not set but we hope this fall, Q3. That’s the last thing I have heard.”
After more than five years since 3G was made available in Turkey, Ankara announced that it would hold a tender for 4G frequencies in the first quarter of 2015, amid increasing mobile Internet traffic.
On other countries in the Middle East, Salmi said he was “impressed” with Iraq after it made the decision in early January to deploy 3G, adding that “it went really fast,” especially “the time span from the decision it actually launched was very short.”
While the trend toward 4G is picking up in the region, more work is still needed.
“If compared to Europe , North America or even parts of northeast Asia, technology-wise as a region we are a bit behind, and they are more evolved. North America is entirely LTE covered,” he said.
“We have spots of LTE and we don’t have LTE in many countries in our region, but it is coming,” he added.
Egypt still has no 4G services. In mid-February, Zain Jordan launched 4G with the government saying that the service would significantly drive data consumption.
Salmi said one of the main reasons preventing the switch to 4G in the region was due to “security.”
“How to control personal privacy, data privacy on the network, that is a big concern,” he added.
According to an Ericsson report issued last month, around 80 percent of smartphone subscriptions added between 2015 and 2020 will be from the Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa.
The “Ericsson Mobility Report: On the Pulse of the Networked Society” also showed that monthly data traffic per smartphone for the Middle East and Africa was 0.7 GB per month in 2014 and expected to reach 3.2 GB in 2020.
Ericsson is one of several major technology firms participating in this year’s Mobile World Congress, the world’s biggest telecoms trade fair.