Saudi Telecom Company (STC) is a Saudi Arabia-based telecommunications provider serving around 19 million GSM customers and four million fixed line subscribers. Facing the challenges of customer demand for quality, speed, coverage and time to market for new services on the one hand, and inroads by new operators on the other, STC adopted a strategy of growing profitable fixed line business by offering its customers high-speed broadband and related services such as IPTV. The strategy concentrates first on the three main cities of Riyadh, Jedda and Damman, before moving on in the next step to the other eight cities making up the Saudi Arabian urban landscape.
Initial steps by STC to implement the strategy of broadband for all, which commenced in 2005, were very well received, and are today exhibiting strong growth. The low PSTN coverage meant that STC was not burdened with the problem of having to integrate a wide variety of legacy equipment, and so from the start the company adopted a policy of basing its expansion on the use of multiservice access nodes (MSANs), in which all services,typically narrowband POTS for telephony and broadband xDSL are integrated into a single node. This approach is not only more cost-effective, it is a quicker and more even-handed way of providing new services to customers Although 89 percent of Saudi Arabia’s population of 25 million people is urban, the country’s huge size of over 2.5 billion square kilometers and the plan to provide broadband to all meant that the MSANs, as well as being installed in telephone exchanges, would also have to be provided in outdoor containers able to withstand harsh environmental conditions in order to service rural areas. The containers and the equipment would have to offer the ultimate in ruggedness, and be perfectly reliable, with a long operational lifespan. This is where the Nokia Siemens Networks MSAN product range, backed by the company’s long and profound experience in the provision and service of heavy-duty rugged solutions, came into play. Nokia Siemens Networks has a long history of providing state-of-the-art equipment specifically designed to operate in some of the world’s most demanding environments. In addition, the company’s NGN fixed access portfolio, strong service setup and, last but not least, its excellent long-term relationship with STC, were instrumental in being awarded, under stiff competition, a contract to supply over 400 outdoor MSAN shelters.
Implementing an all-inclusive broadband strategy meant that STC would connect every house requiring it to a landline network – a major undertaking.This level of investment meant not only that the MSANs must offer along lifespan, service capability on the ground had to be first-class, including project management, network design, implementation, system integration and, of course, maintenance support. Moreover, time to market was critical, so the 400 MSAN containers had to be delivered in just four months.