By Ahmed Naser
Jordan's new GSM mobile communications operator, MobileCom, announced on Sunday the signing of a $35.7 million agreement with Ericsson for the supply of cellular infrastructure components for its network in Jordan.
Officials from MobileCom and Ericsson last week signed during a closed-door ceremony annexes and addendums to an earlier memorandum of understanding announced in late March. MobileCom's new intelligent network (IN) enabled GSM 900 network boasts that it will be the most advanced in Jordan so far, according to a statement issued in a press release on Sunday by the firm's CEO, Jean-Luc Vuillemin.
“We are building the most advanced GSM infrastructure in Jordan using the latest technologies available on the market. Jordanian mobile subscribers will be able to enjoy a degree of crystal clear clarity, which is unavailable on older, less advanced networks, ” said Vuillemin.
According to earlier statements by Vuillemin, MobileCom will start offering its service to the public by the fourth quarter of this year -- five years after incumbent Fastlink, which launched in September 1995 and now has over 100,000 subscribers. The MobileCom-Ericsson signing comes on the heals of site preparation work, which started in April.
“Our aim is to ensure that our customers are able to enjoy the latest features and services with the highest quality customer care right from the start of our service. We are committed to bringing each and every subscriber access to the latest services available in the world, today and tomorrow, by building an up-to-date network that is capable of supporting future technologies,” the MobileCom CEO promised in the press release.
Unlike other technologies such as CDMA, which is a packet-switched cellular technology in wide use across the United States, GSM is circuit-switched. The basic difference between packet and circuit switched networks is the way that each handles bandwidth and data transmission. With packet-switching, voice calls, video and data are accorded the same treatment, where a communication is digitized into numbered packets and then sent across the network. On the other hand, with circuit-switching, calls and data-transfers require the allocation of a circuit for each communication -- in the case of data-transmission speed is usually limited to 9,600 baud per second (bps). But coupled with IN, GSM can reach what is known as Third Generation (3G) standards, where Global Packet Radio Switching (GPRS) and Wide Area Protocol (WAP) capabilities, which require high-speed transfer speeds that start at 64,000 bps, can be applied to provide Internet services on mobiles.
To date, Wadih Skaf, Director General of Ericsson Radio Systems AB -- Jordan Branch, told Albawaba.com “there are four 3G networks on the way and all are based on equipment supplied by Ericsson. Two them are in Japan.”
Meanwhile, MobileCom's network, which will be packet-switching enabled from the ground up, according to Skaf, will allow other services such as mobile radio trunking to be integrated transparently. Digital trunking allows walkie-talkie like communication over cellular networks.
“MobileCom's upcoming network has the ability to handle not only high-speed data transmission but also trunking,” said Skaf.
But in order to be able to offer this service on their network, Skaf pointed out that special software, Ericsson's GSM Pro, which it sells to operators by license must be installed on MobileCom's switches. Also, subscribers must be allocated handsets that can handle both trunking and cellular calls.
In the meantime, after the initial rollout, coverage will extend to all major cities across the Kingdom to provide high quality service to MobileCom subscribers, according to the press release.
“Ericsson is bringing global best practice expertise to Jordan by transferring its technical knowledge to the Jordanian engineers who are working with MobileCom's technical professionals during the buildout phase,” said Skaf.
Ericsson is focusing on the development of the Jordanian mobile telecommunications market, and is looking into future development of new services and applications exclusively for Jordanian mobile phone users.
“MobileCom is a key partner for Ericsson and we are committed to ensuring the smoothest buildout of the network in the least possible time and with the highest level of expertise. This is a long term investment for both companies and will underpin the future of mobile communications in Jordan.”
Indeed, according to statements made by Vuillemin, MobileCom plans to pour a total investment of JoD400 million dinars into Jordan to develop its operation here.
MobileCom, formerly known as PetraCell, is the operator of the mobile communications license granted to Jordan Telecom. France Telecom bought 40 percent of Jordan Telecom shares earlier this year in a $508 million deal -- albawaba.com
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