Zain KSA, Nokia to offer 5G fixed wireless access

Zain KSA, Nokia to offer 5G fixed wireless access

Saudi Arabian operator Zain has turned to Finnish Nokia to broaden its 5G partnership by deploying 60,000 units of the vendor’s FastMile 5G Gateway wireless broadband hub with eSIMs, across the Kingdom over the next 12 months.

The technology will deliver stronger signal, better connectivity, and ultra-high data speeds to every corner of homes and offices, by enhancing connectivity of smart devices through the latest technology for wireless networks Wi-Fi 6, which altogether guarantees an improved customer experience journey.

This expanded partnership highlights Zain Saudi Arabia’s attempt to grab a share of the domestic and corporate broadband access market with the rollout of 5G-based fixed wireless access (FWA) services, one year following its initial 5G launch in October 2019.

Research firm Dell’Oro Group had previously expected that the global mobile network equipment market to “grow at a healthy pace over the next three years” in part due to a “favorable outlook for 5G fixed wireless access.”

The Gateway routers ensure a much quicker and easier account setup by using the latest eSIM technology which avoids purchasing a physical SIM card; this is the first time eSIM has been used in a 5G fixed wireless access solution.

“Rolling out our new 5G fixed wireless access routers comes in line with our digital transformation and 5G expansion strategy reiterating our role in serving the Kingdom’s society,” Chief Technology Officer at Zain KSA Abdul Rahman bin Hamad AlMufadda said in a statement.

According to predictions by Counterpoint Research, cumulative 5G CPE shipments for FWA will cross the 1 billion mark by 2030 at a 47 percent compound annual growth rate over the next ten years.

AlMufada highlighted that the company’s mission is to strengthen the 5G experience in the Kingdom on two levels; the first being horizontally, concerned with spreading the 5G network across the largest possible geographical scale.

The second is vertically through 5G fixed wireless access to enable home and offices with the best and most reliable broadband experience available.

“The combination of FastMile 5G Gateways and self-optimizing mesh Wi-Fi 6 technology means that Zain KSA is delivering a new and unmatched 5G experience to everyone, at every corner and device in homes and offices,” Sandra Motley, President of Fixed Networks at Nokia said.

The collaboration between both companies is intended to expand in the hopes of offering the best possible coverage, stability, and bandwidth in Saudi Arabia, as Zain renewed its commitment to invest further within its digital sector, cloud computing, the Internet of Things (IoT), and artificial intelligence (AI). 

Zain Saudi Arabia has been collaborating with Nokia on 5G and IoT since at least 2017, and in June 2019 the two partners agreed a three-year contract for the supply of 5G radio access network (RAN), backhaul, security and other services.

“We are happy to support Zain KSA connect more people and revolutionize the way people live and work in the Kingdom. Zain KSA is joining the leading operators around the world, in providing the 5G fixed wireless access to deliver a gigabit experience to consumers and businesses alike,” Motley added.

Bader Nasser Al-Kharafi, Zain Group CEO, was previously quoted as saying that the group invested $923 million in capex in the first nine months of 2020, including in spectrum fees, expanding 5G networks and upgrading and expanding 4G networks and fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) services across its footprint.

Nokia and Zain recorded indoor 5G download speeds up to 1.9Gbps in tests held in December, according to Ookra.