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Saudi Telecom Company (STC) and Ericsson announced that they are launching a mid-band 5G network in Saudi Arabia at a signing ceremony held at the Mobile World Congress 2019 event in Barcelona.

STC is deploying a 5G network using Ericsson commercial hardware and solutions including radio access network (RAN), Packet core, transport and Ericsson Network Manager. This network modernization with latest technologies of wireless and fixed broadband, boosted speed and 5G deployment will operate on a 3.5 GHZ band. The 5G network will be deployed with a third-party, 3GPP-compliant user equipment.

Nasser Al Nasser, STC CEO, says: “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 digitalization and connecting everything, which supports Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 toward economic diversification."

STC and Ericsson have a longstanding partnership to create a strategic roadmap for the evolution towards 5G technology.

Rafiah Ibrahim, Head of Ericsson Middle East and Africa, says: “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.

In addition to facilitating the delivery of next-generation mobile broadband, cloud and providing support for massive Internet of Things (IoT) deployment, Ericsson’s 5G collaboration with STC will also enable new industry use cases thanks to increased throughput and reduced latency.

Eng. Emad A. Alaoudah , Procurement and Support Services Sector VP,  STC, said: “STC has signed multiple Rawafed Local Content agreements under its flagship 5G Aspiration Project with Strategic Partners. These agreements will open new opportunities for the local supply market and build long term capability in the national ICT sector.

The 5G project with all partners will contribute more than SAR2bn to local industry, boost Saudization in vital next-gen technology and management positions by 50%, increase SME support by 20%, and double the direct innovation investment made by STC Strategic Partners for 5G industry development within KSA. The measures taken will ensure maximal knowledge transfer, training and development of the Saudi workforce in future 5G technologies.

STC and its Strategic Partners have agreed upon accelerating 5G use case development within the Kingdom leveraging innovation hubs and long-term sustainable innovation platforms. These plans will establish KSA as a future 5G regional center of competence.”

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.

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