Intel goes WiMAX in Saudi Arabia
Intel’s operations in Saudi Arabia have achieved a regional first by adopting WiMAX technology to support their communication needs through Integrated Telecom Co. “ITC” WiMAX network in Saudi Arabia. ITC, the second licensed data services provider in Saudi Arabia, has started the deployment of their unique WiMAX network infrastructure early this year.
All of the company employees in Riyadh will now use the fixed WiMAX infrastructure (IEEE 802.16-2004) on a 3.5GHz frequency, provided by Saudi-based data service provider Integrated Telecom Company, which has linked the office with the Internet backbone of local ISP Nesma Internet. The office’s WiMAX set-up uses an Intel-enabled CPE (Customer Premise Equipment), delivering on-demand access to high-speed Internet broadband services and connect to the wireless LAN in the office.
Intel’s GM for the GCC Samir Al-Schamma said: “Saudi Arabia is making major strides to increase IT adoption and grow the technology sector, and Intel is committed to its role as an enabler, working to help provide the latest systems and infrastructure. To have Intel’s Riyadh office using WiMAX is a reflection of Riyadh’s determination to become a genuine digital city.”
Riyadh aims to become the first Middle East city to integrate wireless capabilities through WiMAX, and the Saudi Government began issuing fixed WiMAX (IEEE 802.16-2004) licenses on a 3.5GHz frequency recently, the first Middle East country to do so.
The move follows a visit to the Kingdom last November by Intel Chairman Craig Barrett, who announced a series of bold initiatives to support Saudi Arabia’s efforts to expand the use of Information Communication Technology in key sectors of its economy.
“WiMAX has the potential to enable millions of people to obtain wireless Internet connectivity cheaply and easily. It therefore represents a tremendous opportunity for communities aiming to rapidly harness the benefits of global digital transformation.” added Al-Schamma.
Last October Intel announced its Digital Transformation Initiative for the Middle East, which encompasses programs tailored to improve digital accessibility, education, entrepreneurship, and specialized competencies. During his visit to Saudi Arabia last year, Intel Chairman Craig Barrett announced a US$50 million venture capital fund to invest in technology companies developing innovative hardware, software and services in Intel’s Middle East and Turkey markets.
Dr. Mohammed Omar, President of Integrated Telecom Company, which implemented fixed WiMAX connectivity at Intel’s Riyadh office, said: “WiMAX is bringing the fixed broadband and mobile worlds together, as WiMAX offers cost-effective ‘last-mile’ connectivity to areas that are too expensive to serve with wired technologies. WiMAX offers a fast track for digital change in Saudi Arabia.”. “We have started installation of WiMAX base stations in Riyadh city for testing purposes and also serving certain immediate corporate customers’ requirements. The results are encouraging and we are looking forward to a wider deployment in the next few months” added Dr. Mohammad Omar.
WiMAX stands for Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access, and is a standards-based wireless technology that provides high-throughput broadband connections over long distances. WiMAX can be used for a number of applications, including "last mile" broadband connections, hotspots and cellular backhaul, and high-speed enterprise connectivity for business. It supports broadband services like VoIP or video. While today’s implementations are based on fixed WiMAX (IEEE 802.16-2004), first mobile WiMAX networks (IEEE 802.16-2005) are expected by the end of the year.
WiMAX is similar to WiFi but offers larger bandwidth, stronger encryption and improved performance over longer distances by connecting between receiving stations that are not in the line of sight. Riyadh is set to join a growing family of international cities that have adopted WiMAX technology, including New York, Los Angeles, and cities in Europe, Latin America and China.