Nº 10 2012 > Saudi Telecom increases network capacity
5000 employees and technicians provide extended services
Each year, millions of Muslims who are physically and financially able to do so travel from all over the world to Saudi Arabia, on a pilgrimage known as the Hajj.
This year more than three million pilgrims moved between the holy sites each day. Saudi Telecom Company (STC) has successfully completed its operations for this year’s Hajj, which lasted for six days. To better serve pilgrims, the company boosted network capacity by 60 per cent in the Makkah (or Mecca), Madinah and other Hajj holy sites, increasing network capability to serve more than 26 million users (equivalent to the network capacity of several countries).
The company harnessed all its financial, human and technical resources to meet its goal of providing high-quality telecommunications during the Hajj, to enable pilgrims to communicate with their families and to keep in touch with their business affairs. For example, STC deployed 5000 employees and technicians to raise network efficiency and operability in all Hajj holy sites and in the central areas of “Mina”, “Muzdalifah” and “Arafat”. The company spared no effort in putting at the disposal of the pilgrims secure and reliable infrastructure from the moment of their arrival to their departure. It enhanced its fourth-generation (4G) network, deployed a fibre-to-the-home network, worked hand in hand with relevant authorities to complete major projects in the Hajj holy sites — for example, the “Jamaraat Bridge”, “Haramain High-Speed Rail” and “Mina Towers” — all in an effort to facilitate pilgrims’ calls and Internet traffic.
STC’s provision of a free Wi-Fi service in Makkah and Madinah, coupled with the use of 2676 mobile towers to sustain network coverage to all holy sites, meant telecommunication traffic peaked to new levels, rising by 49 per cent on Mount Arafat Day compared to the previous year. The high traffic was supported by new state-of-the-art technology and high-quality optical fibre. Third-generation (3G) and 4G networks were extended to accommodate the heavy telecommunication traffic and data transfer to and from Saudi Arabia. The expansion of services contributed to raising call and Internet capacities in parts of Makkah and Madinah by up to 385 per cent compared to 2011, with the processing of more than 2750 terabytes in Internet traffic. STC, which can accommodate traffic of up to 380 gigabit per second, operates the biggest Internet portal in the Middle East and Africa region.
During this year’s Hajj season, STC supported its networks in Makkah and Madinah with more than 747 new locations to raise the efficiency of its mobile and 4G LTE networks which the company introduced in 2011 specifically for the pilgrimage. The company also increased the operational efficiency of its 3G networks with 381 3G base network stations in Makkah, Madinah and other holy sites to raise network capacities. It extended coverage with the addition of 18 new sites, bringing to 53 the total number of sites that are covered with a comprehensive list of telecommunication services in the Haram, which includes commercial, business, and government service sectors, as well as the expansion areas north of the Haram.