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Nokia and Alfa, Lebanon's first mobile operator managed by Orascom TMT, will deploy 4.5G Pro technology using the Nokia AirScale 5G-ready radio platform following a recent successful test of the technology. With this, Alfa will be able to introduce Gigabit LTE speeds for its subscribers.

The deployment follows the MoU signed in MWC 2018 and is an important step for Alfa to prepare its network to eventually offer innovative 5G services to its subscribers. This kind of higher-speed broadband will enable them to enjoy data-hungry applications and services such as Ultra High Definition video streaming, e-health and e-education, and can support millions of smart devices connected for Internet of Things (IoT) and smart cities.

Alfa will use Nokia's 5G-ready, commercially available AirScale radio, three-carrier aggregation technique, 4x4 Multiple Input and Multiple Output (MIMO) and 256 QAM (Quadrature Amplitude Modulation) to achieve higher throughput, along with Category 16 (Cat 16) capable devices. Such capabilities are critical for operators facing relentless demand for data-driven services and preparing for the advent of 5G networks and services.

Nokia has defined a clear path to 5G through 4.5G Pro and 4.9G. The company already announced 4.5G Pro and 4.9G in September 2016 to enable operators such as Alfa to meet the ever-increasing data demands of their subscribers.

Marwan Hayek, Chairman and CEO of Alfa, said, “The road to 5G was laid long ago in Lebanon with the launch of the country's first 4.5G network by Alfa. We continue this evolutionary path toward deploying the first 5G network in the country planned in 2019 through this 4.5G Pro deployment with our long-term partner Nokia. This deployment maintains our telecom leadership position and strengthens the foundation for eventual IoT services for smart cities in the country.”

Roger Ghorayeb, customer team head for growth in West MEA at Nokia, said, “We are delighted to continue supporting Alfa to quickly move toward 5G technologies and provide pioneering high-quality mobile broadband services. This deployment reiterates our commitment to modernize Alfa's network infrastructure with Nokia's latest technologies.”