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Lebanese mobile operator Alfa, managed by Egypt's Orascom Telecom, has partnered with Nokia for network evolution toward 5G. Nokia will deploy a 3G and LTE-Advanced Pro network using its 5G-ready AirScale equipment which will provide an enhanced voice and mobile broadband experience to Alfa's subscribers.

The two companies signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at Mobile World Congress this year to further evolve Alfa's network by applying the Nokia AirScale system across 3G, 4G and 5G radio technologies, including CAT16 use cases. The MoU also aims to leverage Internet of Things (IoT), small cells and automation solutions, as well as Nokia's latest network optimization services, innovations and analytical tools.

"We are delighted to work with Nokia on this major deployment as part of our aggressive roadmap to install 500 new 3G, LTE and LTE-A sites before end of next year and our digital transformation strategy through which we are eyeing to be among the first operators to commercially launch 5G," said Alfa CEO Marwan Hayek. "We are confident that Nokia's proven expertise will help us maintain our leadership position and enable IoT, as well as continue to provide world-class quality of services to our subscribers."

Under the AirScale deployment agreement, Alfa will use Nokia's AirScale equipment to deploy a 3G and LTE-Advanced Pro network, which will enable it to introduce new services later in 2018, including Voice over LTE (VoLTE) and LTE-Advanced Pro. It also marks the first time that Nokia's energy-efficient AirScale technology will be used in Alfa's networks.

"We are committed to helping Alfa and other service providers transform their networks to meet surging demand for mobile data," said Roger Ghorayeb, customer team head for growth in West MEA at Nokia. "The introduction of Nokia's 5G-ready AirScale offering will enable Alfa to prepare for the launch of next-generation services. It will also help them to launch services faster, while simultaneously reducing operational expenditure."

Nokia's AirScale Single Radio Access Network (SRAN) solution will be used to deploy 3G and LTE-A Pro. The 4G LTE-A utilizes carrier aggregation technology, which brings together spectrum from two frequency bands for improved speed and spectral efficiency. Nokia will combine spectrum from 800 MHz and 1800 MHz frequency bands for the implementation of LTE-A for Alfa.

The deployment will ensure seamless availability of voice services and align with Alfa's plan to gradually shut down its 2G network and re-farm the spectrum for LTE services. A host of Nokia services will ensure a smooth deployment, including project management, network planning and optimization, care and training services.