Pilgrims stay connected during the Hajj

Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – November 30, 2011

Saudi Telecom Company (STC) teams with Nokia Siemens Networks to ensure network availability and up to 42 Mbps mobile broadband

Saudi Telecom Company (STC) has once again successfully handled the upsurge in mobile traffic during the holy Hajj pilgrimage, which in the western calendar took place this year between 3 to 9 November. Nokia Siemens Networks, STC’s preferred mobile equipment and services supplier, ensured connectivity for thousands of STC subscribers and millions of pilgrims. There was an average increase of 500%, and a peak increase of 760%, in STC’s 3G traffic during the pilgrimage. Despite this huge increase in traffic and capacity load, network performance remained high, providing an optimal service for pilgrims. Nokia Siemens Networks is the sole GSM and 3G radio supplier for STC’s network in Mecca, Medina, and other pilgrim areas, and has been providing Hajj service support for over a decade.

The Hajj is a week-long pilgrimage when millions of visitors move through Masha'er; from Mina to Muzdalifah along to Arafat, an area of 15 square kilometers. Nokia Siemens Networks’ association with the Hajj pilgrimage dates back to the year 2001, when it built STC’s network in Mecca to accommodate the heavy traffic during Ramadan*. This year, the peak hour traffic reached one million erlangs** on the day of Eid on November 6.

“Nokia Siemens Networks has once again stepped up to the task, giving us the necessary support to handle high density traffic during the Hajj,” said Bandar Algafari, vice president, Networks Sector at STC. “The challenge this year was to handle the dramatic increase in data traffic driven by an increased uptake in the use of smartphones. Pilgrims were sharing their experiences by taking pictures, uploading those to social networking sites, sending MMSs and surfing the internet. We are happy to have served all our subscribers and roaming visitors, thanks to Nokia Siemens Networks’ extensive support services and expertise in handling events of this size.”

“We understand the importance of the Hajj and what it means to pilgrims coming from across the world,” added Teo Tuomas Hirvonen, head of STC business at Nokia Siemens Networks. “Coping with high-density traffic in such a confined space requires robust equipment and reliable performance. It was thus absolutely essential for us to make sure that services work smoothly during this critical period, and subscribers are able to connect with friends and family both back home and on the pilgrimage.”

Nokia Siemens Networks deployed HSPA+ to deliver speeds of up to 42 megabits per second (Mbps). To meet the increased demand for network capacity and avoid any degradation in network performance during exceptional traffic and load conditions, the vendor provided its Special Event Support services***. This involves comprehensive managed services, including network design planning, and optimization services, as well as full care and field support for the network. This allowed STC to offer subscribers improved data services such as live video calls. Nokia Siemens Networks also took complete responsibility of supply, installation, integration and commissioning of equipment.

In the future, operators can further improve the management of unpredictable broadband traffic by evolving to Liquid Net****. This radical new approach from Nokia Siemens Networks unleashes frozen network capacity and efficiently allocates resources to fulfill unpredictable demand, wherever and whenever people use broadband. This will allow operators to be even better prepared for events such as the Hajj pilgrimage, or new services introduced in the internet without knowing release dates and the impact it can have on their network.

About Nokia Siemens Networks

Nokia Siemens Networks is a leading global enabler of telecommunications services. With its focus on innovation and sustainability, the company provides a complete portfolio of mobile, fixed and converged network technology, as well as professional services including consultancy and systems integration, deployment, maintenance and managed services. It is one of the largest telecommunications hardware, software and professional services companies in the world. Operating in 150 countries, its headquarters are in Espoo, Finland. www.nokiasiemensnetworks.com

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Notes to editors:

* Ramadan is the holy month for Muslims, and falls in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar.

** The erlang is a dimensionless unit that is used in telephony as a statistical measure of offered load or carried load on service-providing elements such as telephone circuits or telephone switching equipment. A radio channel that is occupied for one hour continuously is said to have a load of 1 erlang.

*** Special Events such as Olympics, global soccer tournaments or the Hajj pilgrimage require extra effort and preparation from the ‘host’ CSPs to make sure that their network and services infrastructure as well as their Operations and Maintenance (O&M) organization are well prepared. In today’s OPEX and resource-constrained environment, this means finding the most efficient way to manage the complete program of activities before, during and after the event. Based on its experience in supporting large scale events, Nokia Siemens Networks has developed a Special Event Support solution which helps maintain excellent network and service performance under extreme traffic conditions through comprehensive planning, diligent preparation and fault-free execution by a team of technical experts.

**** Traffic patterns are becoming unpredictable. Demand for services changes with time and location as people move around hour-by-hour, day-by-day, for business and leisure. New devices, services and applications can cause abrupt changes in traffic patterns, giving operators no time to prepare.

Liquid Net is an architecture that helps operators to address this unpredictable demand by creating networks that can adapt in an instant to changing customer needs, using existing capital investments more efficiently and generating entirely new revenue opportunities. It does this by unleashing frozen network capacity into a reservoir of resources that can flow to fulfill demand, wherever and whenever broadband is used.

Liquid Net also uses automated, self-adapting broadband optimization to deliver services and content to ensure the best customer experience by always being aware of the network’s operational status and the services being consumed. In addition, Liquid Net channels traffic in the transport network along the path of least resistance and lowest cost between sites.

Liquid Net implements fluid capabilities seamlessly and intelligently across the entire network infrastructure, in radio access, transport and core network components using four key enablers:

Self–aware, self-adapting: The network recognizes where demand is coming from and instantly re-adjusts itself to deliver the right capacity, coverage and services to the right places.

Software-defined applications on multi-purpose hardware: Software-defined network applications run on multi-purpose hardware, either COTS ATCA-based or other generic, enabling processing capacity to be matched to changing demand.

Inter-linked architecture: Infrastructure elements are extensively inter-connected to allow capacity and processing to flow freely across the network

Investment-protection, evolution: Liquid Net takes a fully evolutionary approach that is transformational.

The network’s capital efficiency is enhanced. Huge chunks of unused network resources, as much as 80% of baseband capacity, are released by avoiding the need to dimension every network element according to peak demand. In the core domain, the network element footprint can be reduced by 80% and energy use by up to 65%. In the transport part, up to 60% of capacity can be reused, for instance by handling traffic in the lowest and most cost-efficient optical layer.

Liquid Net is a structure for enabling operators to meet the demands of today’s and tomorrow’s communications markets. Importantly, Liquid Net provides the end-to-end network offering to meet all demands at cost levels that maintain the profitability they need.