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Future of local ICT industry lies beyond 2G services — executives

By Mohammad Ghazal - Aug 30,2014 - Last updated at Aug 30,2014

AMMAN — Second generation (2G) networks will no longer be needed in Jordan in five to seven years, but it will be difficult to switch to more advanced services as long as many devices are only 2G-enabled, according to telecom executives. 

“It is in the interest of telecos as well as [other] companies that the usage of 2G networks stops and companies use the spectrum of these networks for improving services and providing more advanced... speeds that are enabled by third and fourth generation networks,” said Waleed Khodeir, director of mobile broadband at Ericsson North East Africa.

"In many countries, the usage of 2G networks has stopped. It is time to move towards providing fourth generation (4G) services in Jordan," Khodeir added at a training seminar under the title "The Networked Society" last Thursday.

"The number of phones enabling 3G and 4G services is increasing but there are still many people who use 2G-enabled devices, which remains a challenge,” he noted. 

The seminar highlighted the fast-growing ICT industry and essential technological factors for such transformation.

Smartphone penetration in the Kingdom is estimated at 50 per cent, according to the Arab Advisers Group.

In Jordan, where mobile penetration reached 157 per cent with 10.4 million subscriptions by the end of March, 2G and 3G services are provided by the country’s three telecom companies:  Zain Jordan, Umniah and Orange Jordan.

Earlier this year, Zain Jordan obtained the necessary licence and frequencies to provide 4G services in the Kingdom. The company said the service is expected to be launched before the end of this year.

Reviewing several studies by Ericsson, Fida Kibbi, vice president and head of communications at Ericsson, Middle East and East Africa region, said by 2020 there will be some 50 billion thousand "things" — including cars, devices and other machines — connected to the Internet.

Internet usage is on the rise; therefore the need for higher speeds is also increasing, she added.

Kibbi noted that the number of smartphone subscriptions worldwide will increase from 1.9 billion at present to 5.6 billion by 2019.

Mobile broadband subscriptions will increase from 2.3 billion at present to 7.6 billion by 2019, while mobile subscriptions will increase from 6.8 billion to 9.2 billion by 2019, according to the Ericsson executive.

Stressing the key role the ICT sector plays in the growth of economies, Kibbi said 80 jobs are created per 1,000 broadband connections, adding that every 10 per cent increase in mobile penetration leads to 1 per cent growth in the gross domestic product.

During the seminar, Mohab Daquah, Ericsson's country manager in the Kingdom, described Jordan as an "exponentially growing market". 

"The percentage of Internet users increased by 25 per cent last year with the increasing reliance on [online] services,” he noted.

Daquah said about 7 per cent of all employees in Amman work in the ICT sector, while the percentage in other cities across the world is only around 4 per cent.

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