"We intend to have the fastest 4G/5G network on the planet by next year," emails Sara Ibrahim Al Sayed, Senior Analyst, Investor Relations, Ooredoo. She added, "We currently have 100 MHz live at 3.5 GHz. The plan is to add another 100 MHz @ 3.5 GHz and 10 MHz @ 700 MHz next year but the exact timing is yet to be announced. In 2021 we will add a further 400-800MHz at 26 GHz. We already are one of the fastest 4G networks on the planet."
Using 200 MHz of mid-band spectrum would allow Ooredoo Qatar to offer higher speeds than almost all Europeans. No one in Europe is firmly committed to millimetre wave*, so Ooredoo will likely pull far ahead. The mmWave spectrum will bring Oreedoo speeds into the very top tier alongside Verizon.
The initial results are promising. Her colleague Rob Joyce tested 720 Mbps on a Mate 20 at Costa Coffee, one of the highest indoor results for 5G. (Pictured left.) I don't have much data on indoor mid-band speeds, but mmWave is clobbered by many walls and windows.
The competition around the Gulf is becoming fierce, with Zain, Etisalat, and Saudi Telecom also building 5G.
All the companies have very strong technical staff that can design networks of quality. At Ooredoo, there is a mix of native and expat engineers. Guenther Ottendorfer, who managed much of the network at Sprint in the U.S., is one of the executives recently added.
Qatar has fewer than three million inhabitants, 80% of whom are expatriates. Oil and gas income yields one of the highest per capita incomes in the world, able to afford a world-class network.
Ooredoo is a major multinational, with 164 million customers across 12 markets including Indonesia, Myanmar, Algeria, and Iraq.
*Fastweb announced they would use mmWave but may have backed off. It isn't answering my questions. Telefonica and others remain in test mode.