Zain Bahrain announced today that is will be investing in a state of the art LTE upgrade. The contract was awarded to Nokia Siemens Networks. Zain wants to provide nationwide coverage and provide new products and services to its customers.
So, how will other major operators in the Middle East respond to this announcement? Zain has always been a leader and not just in the middle east, for example was the first operator in the world to build a nationwide fixed WiMAX network.
Aaron Boasman, Senior Researcher for Middle East conferences at Informa Telecoms & Media said, "Zain's announcement paves the direction for other operators in the region. Its is fair to say that other tier 1 operators such as Etisalat and Saudi Telecom will also go down the LTE route. WiMAX will only be used as a stop gap solution."
Javier Sanchez, Strategy & CEO Support Director from Zain spoke at the recent LTE World Summit in Berlin on the drivers for LTE in emerging markets, so there has clearly been a strategy in place for some time now.
In a region where fibre deployments are taking priority, with new "Smart Cities" being built complete with a fibre to the home, it will be interesting to see how much operators concentrate on wireless infrastructure. The Middle East is a very indoor society, with FTTH and IPTV deployments so far proving to be very successful. This announcement, may however make other operators in the region sit up and take notice and they may start to feel that LTE is not actually that far away.