Qtel, Qatar’s incumbent operator, has started testing an LTE network in parts of Doha, and confirmed its intention to launch commercial LTE services by the end of 2012.
The telco said that “hundreds” of Qtel customers throughout Doha will take part in the tests using the latest generation 4G devices. The selected group will provide feedback to ensure a smooth commercial launch by the end of the year.
As part of the build-up phase, Qtel has installed 100 antennas throughout Doha, including in The Pearl, Katara, West Bay, the Corniche, and Sealine.
After the trial, Qtel will launch its LTE network for customers starting in Doha. Customers will need to upgrade their mobile devices so that they are compatible with the new network.
The telco, which is using 800 Mhz and 2,600 Mhz frequencies for LTE, said that the network will eventually improve the experience for all Qtel mobile customers, including those using 2G and 3G devices, as it will improve network management across the country. The LTE network will on average offer speeds that are three-to-six times faster than 3G.
Waleed Al Sayed, chief operating officer, Qtel, said that the telco will work with leading vendors to ensure that 4G mobile devices are available “at affordable prices” to people living in Qatar.
“By the end of this year, Qtel customers using the 4G LTE network in Doha will have incredibly fast access to high-bandwidth content such as high-definition videos and the ability to upload and download big files through the latest generation 4G USB modems and MiFi devices. Qtel is providing the best 4G LTE network for the people of Qatar, and this test phase is an essential step for ensuring the best possible customer experience,” he said.
Qtel started to deploy its LTE network before Eid, and the company is confident that it will integrate smoothly with the existing 3G network.
In October 2011, Qtel said that it wouldl invest $55 million in an LTE programme that would bring 4G to the Gulf state for the first time.