This week I read that Zain has announced that it will deploy the Middle East's first LTE network in Bahrain. The latest update from The Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) (published on the same day as the Zain news as it happens) said that there are now:
- 31 LTE network operator commitments worldwide, and
- Up to 12 LTE networks are expected to enter commercial service by end 2010
For the record, Zain isn't in the 31, but it's interesting to note that considering it is a "long term" technology things are moving at such a pace. After all HSPA+ is promising (peak) 21Mbit/s which is faster than most DSL users experience but LTE goes way beyond this. So why the rush? Well one factor came to the surface in the reporting of the Zain Bahrain news. Competitive advantage. Maybe I missed it, but it's not often that this aspect is mentioned. It's often all about the new and gee-whizz video services that the network will deliver. But gaining the advantage in the marketplace which is what Zain Bahrain will achieve is certainly true. The other LTE commitments are largely focused on North America, Western Europe and the Far East. There are no other LTE networks announced anywhere near the Middle East as yet.