Nokia Networks, Zain KSA complete Saudi Arabia's first LTE carrier aggregation trial

Nokia Networks and Saudi Arabian operator Zain KSA said they have completed the first trial of LTE carrier aggregation in the Middle Eastern country, as part of a network upgrade project.

A carrier aggregation pilot conducted in western Saudi Arabia successfully combined FDD-LTE bands in the 1800 MHz and 2100 MHz frequencies. Nokia Networks said the trial was the first conducted in the country, and boosted the speed of Zain's network to a maximum of 150 Mbps.

Hassan Kabbani, CEO of Zain KSA, explained that the operator is trialling carrier aggregation as part of a broader investment in its LTE network designed to deliver "a world-class, reliable mobile voice, data and video service" to subscribers in the country.

The CEO noted that growing smartphone adoption is boosting demand for "superior quality, high-speed and new data services" in Saudi Arabia.

Nokia Networks deployed a single RAN base station that delivers high capacity throughput as part of the trial, along with associated carrier aggregation software covering the 1800 MHz and 2100 MHz bands. The infrastructure company also provided network planning, optimisation and implementation experts as part of the project.

Bernard Najm, VP and head of MEA at Nokia Networks, said the company aimed to help Zain to "become a technology leader in the Saudi market".

The Finnish company's carrier aggregation products are "capable of helping Zain KSA provide better network performance with higher throughput and speeds, while reducing capital expenditure," Najm added.

Pyramid Research in April announced that Saudi Arabia remained the largest telecoms market in the MEA region, generating total fixed and mobile telecom revenues of $16.2 billion (€14.2 billion) in 2014. South Africa generated the second highest revenue ($13.4 billion), with Turkey in third ($13 billion).

Also in April, the Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) revealed that 116 operators globally were investing in carrier aggregation technology, equivalent to 30 per cent of the global mobile operator base.

For more:
- see this Nokia Networks announcement

Related articles:
Report: Saudi Arabia remains largest telecoms market in MEA despite revenue drop
GSA: VoLTE launches reach 16 as operators embrace HD voice benefits
EE says Wembley Stadium LTE carrier advanced demo a first for UK
Qualcomm Europe exec says consolidation and LTE development are fuelling region's revival
Ericsson hits 450 Mbps in Unitel LTE-A carrier aggregation trial