WiMAX makes its mark in the Arab World: 11 Arab countries host 26 commercially launched WiMAX operators.

Published July 14th, 2010 - 11:40 GMT

By end of June 2010, 26 out of 55 operators licensed to offer WiMAX offered the service. WiMAX is commercially available in Algeria, Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and the UAE. Moreover, Yemen and Oman are slated to WiMAX services in the second half of 2010.

WiMAX stands for World Interoperability for Microwave Access. WiMAX/IEEE 802.16 is a global standard-based technology for Broadband Wireless Access. WiMAX is a broadband wireless technology that is largely supported by the computer and the telecom industry. Its guarantee is that it is engineered to deliver ever-present fixed and mobile services such as VoIP, Information Technology and Video at relatively low cost. Furthermore, WiMAX vendors state that WiMAX systems are able to cover a large geographical area (up to 50 km) and to deliver significant bandwidth to end-users at up to 40 Mbps. WiMAX technology can be deployed as a Point Multi-Point in last mile connection and as part of the backhaul to the PSTN and Internet access points.

The first commercial deployment of WiMAX in the Arab World was in Algeria in 2007. Moreover, by end of June 2010, a total of 26 service providers in 11 countries (including Algeria) in the MENA region offered WiMAX. The Arab Advisors Group expects an increase of 3 operators, at least, by end of 2010.

A new report, "WiMAX in the Arab World 2010" was released to the Arab Advisors Group's Telecoms Strategic Research Service subscribers on June 19th, 2010.

This report can be purchased from the Arab Advisors Group for only US$ 950. The 37-page report, which has 51 detailed exhibits, investigates the availability of WiMAX regulations in 18 Arab countries, the frequencies used, entities that have tested WiMAX or pre-WiMAX services, and vendors for equipment. The report covers the following Arab countries: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, UAE, and Yemen.

"There are still no detailed regulations specific to WiMAX in some Arab countries. Still, a few have specified the type of license that needs to be obtained to provide WiMAX service. For example, in Algeria, the company should have a VoIP authorization and the regulator's specified band for WiMAX. In Jordan, the company should have an individual license needed to use the frequency (a scarce resource) as well as win the spectrum auction for WiMAX." Alaa Numair, Research Analyst at Arab Advisors Group noted in the report.

The top three frequencies allocated to operators in the Arab world are 3.5 GHz, 3.6 GHz and 2.6 MHz. The 3.5 GHz band, allocated to 19 out of 55 licensed operators to provide WiMAX, is the most common allocated frequency in the Arab countries. 3.6 MHz and 2.6 MHz followed with 8 and 7 licensed operators, respectively. Tareq Masarweh, Research Analyst at Arab Advisors Group added. 

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