UAE-based telecoms operator Etisalat has announced the launch of its Long Term Evolution-Frequency Division Duplex (LTE-FDD) mobile broadband network, bringing maximum download speeds of up to 100Mbps to the country. The 4G network, which is integrated with the operator’s fibre-optic infrastructure, comprises over 700 base stations and is available in around 70% of the UAE’s urban areas. Etisalat plans to increase the number of active LTE cell sites to around 1,000 by the end of the year. Nasser Bin Obood, Etisalat’s acting CEO, said that the LTE infrastructure investment is long-term and aims to enhance the country’s position globally, while supporting sustainable development. ‘Advanced telecommunications are a key basis for a developed society, and this 4G network can contribute to developing various sectors, including education, finance and healthcare, as well as the economic and business sectors, the latter of which will be a direct beneficiary of 4G,’ he added.
Etisalat is the UAE’s largest mobile operator by subscribers, according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, with around 7.5 million customers at the end of June 2011. The company’s sole rival Du, which completed its first pilot trial of LTE in May this year, claimed around 4.77 million subscribers at the end of June. Du plans to commercially launch its 4G network in the second half of the year.