By Tawanda Chihota
Koponen has been a strong advocate of maintaining a focus on voice as a product in the Middle East and for operators not to be too hasty in offering a discount on voice pricing.
Kuwait’s Wataniya Telecom is investing in ‘4G’ technology rather than 3G because the space of time between the respective availability of the technologies makes the move to high-speed downlink packet access (HSDPA), or 3.5G, an obvious choice. “The gap in the time of delivery of 3G and 4G is so small, it makes sense to go straight to 4G,” Harri Koponen, general manager and CEO of Wataniya Telecom told CommsMEA.
At the end of May, Wataniya announced it had tied up with Nokia for the implementation of advanced technologies that would enhance Wataniya's network and take the operator 'beyond 3G'. As part of the agreement, Nokia is set to supply Wataniya with a wide variety of products including a HSDPA solution, a WCDMA network upgrade that offers theoretical data speeds of 1-2 Mbps in the first phase.
Koponen has been a strong advocate of maintaining a focus on voice as a product in the Middle East and for operators not to be too hasty in offering a discount on voice pricing, though he believes this latest data network upgrade does not take away from the emphasis on voice. “There are leaders and there are followers and in this respect we are set to be a leader,” Koponen said. “HSDPA will remove all manner of capacity bottlenecks and will allow the delivery of broadband-type services that will be utilised by heavy data users,” he added.
Given the operator’s roll out of EDGE technology nationwide, Koponen says that HSDPA would only be deployed in high-traffic areas, and that the operator is “extremely happy in terms of the uptake of EDGE.” Regarding the deployment of HSDPA, Koponen expects that to occur by the end of the year, supported by data cards, with the first mobile terminals arriving on the market in 1Q06.
Wataniya also recently announced the expansion of international prepaid roaming to incorporate 10 countries and Koponen sees this as evidence that the operator is attempting to provide the services all profile of subscribers demand. “We are a fully fledged operator, not a prepaid provider that offers cheap services. We are looking to offer subscribers the services they want on a value for money basis,” Koponen said.