Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (Etisalat) announced on 25 September the launch of faster mobile internet technology, called long-term evolution (LTE), in the UAE.

The technology also known as fourth-generation (4G), will be available in all of the major cities. It is part of the operator’s AED6bn ($1.6bn) investment in its fixed and mobile infrastructure. The majority of this amount has been spent on the fibre-optic infrastructure.

“Mobile data is a huge opportunity for growing revenue and LTE will be part of that,” says Nasser Bin Obood, acting chief executive officer at Etisalat.

The service should be commercially available next month.

“We do not have a certain percentage in mind for take up, but we expect it will take the normal life cycle of any other technology. We have a controlled launch to see the appetite and when the devices market matures, we’ll see more uptake,” says Obood.

Etisalat joins Saudi Arabia’s three mobile operators as the region’s LTE players. Saudi Telecoms Company (STC) Etihad-Etisalat (Mobily) and Zain Saudi Arabia all announced the launch of LTE on the same day on 13 September.

The technology promises speeds of up to 100 megabits a second and is effective for applications that use high-bandwidth including video streaming, online applications and gaming. However, as yet there are no 4G mobile phones available through Etisalat.