Agreement follows announcement that Saudi Arabia plans the largest 5G commercial roll-out in the Middle East and North Africa
Saudi Telecom Company (STC) and Ericsson on Tuesday signed a deal to launch a mid-band 5G network in Saudi Arabia.
The deal, announced at a signing ceremony at Mobile World Congress 2019 in Barcelona, will see STC deploying a 5G network using Ericsson commercial hardware and solutions including radio access network (RAN), packet core, transport, and Ericsson Network Manager.
The network modernisation – comprising latest wireless and fixed broadband technologies, boosted speed and 5G deployment - will operate on a 3.5 GHZ band.
Earlier on Tuesday, Saudi Arabia announced the largest 5G commercial roll-out in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), with an additional 400 MHz in mid-band (3.5Ghz) spectrum being released to commercial operators in March 2019.
According to Abdullah Alswaha, Saudi Arabia’s Minister for Communications and Information Technology, the roll-out will make over 1,000 Mhz total spectrum available for cellular services, while around 10,000 5G base stations will provide Saudi consumers with MENA’s fastest and most extensive 5G coverage.
Nasser Al Nasser, STC CEO, said: “We are excited to launch one of the fastest mid-band 5G field networks in the world. We have been working in close partnership with Ericsson on 5G for tests in the lab, field trials, and now initial deployment. Throughout this process, our customers and their service requirements are our top priority. Our aim is to build a network that caters for current and future services. 5G is considered as a very important step toward digitalisation and connecting everything, which supports Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 toward economic diversification."
Rafiah Ibrahim, head of Ericsson Middle East and Africa, added: “5G holds an immense potential for driving industry digitization and pioneering innovation. Our collaboration with STC has enabled us to create a fast mid-band 5G field network based on real business needs, which supports STC in meeting their future customer requirements.”
5G at mid and high bands is well suited for deployment at existing site grids, especially when combined with low-band LTE. Adding new frequency bands to existing deployments is a future-proof and cost-efficient way to improve performance, meet the growing needs of mobile broadband subscribers, and deliver new 5G-based services.
The combined effort of the two partners aims to create significant value towards Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, targeting both consumer and business sectors to enjoy next-generation technologies.