Qatari telecoms giant Qtel will invest $55m in a new long-term evolution (LTE) programme that will bring 4G to the Gulf state for the first time.
The project, will involve deploying nearly 900 base stations across the country, which Qtel says will offer the best penetration for 4G coverage anywhere in the region.
The service will result in potential download speeds of as much as 150Mbps on mobile phones and devices.
“Qtel was among the first companies in the region to trial this technology. We completed the test phase for this technology with two potential vendors in July, and it was extremely successful,” said Qtel chief operating office Waleed Al Sayed.
“Previously, we have said we would launch this technology when it reached maturity and when a full range of devices were available. We have received assurances that a full range of devices will be launched in Qatar over the next year, and have begun the launch process for this technology.”
Qtel did not say when the network would be completed. It is also in the process of building out its $178m fibre to the home (FTTH) network, which will be completed in two years’ time.
The announcement means that Qtel joins a clutch of companies, including the UAE’s Etisalat and Mobily, the Zain-managed Saudi licence holder, who are vying to be the first to offer 4G technology in the region.
A recent report released by Frost & Sullivan noted that the Saudi and UAE markets were poised to see huge annual growth in the take-up of 4G technologies as customers demand more data services.
LTE services are predicted to grow by 54 percent in Saudi Arabia and by 84 percent in the UAE, with both countries's demand driven by a tech-savvy, youthful population, the consultant said.