Mobily and STC have both launched LTE services in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabian mobile operator Mobily has launched the first LTE service in the Middle East, but rival STC was hot on its heels, launching its own service a day later.

Although both are claiming to be the first to provide LTE in the region, Mobily announced the launch of its service on Tuesday, whereas STC announced its news on Wednesday.

In the first phase of its rollout, Mobily has launched the service in the cities of Najran, Jazan, Al Kharj, Ras Tanoura, Algurayat and Aldudamy. It plans to roll out to Hail, Al Baha, Al Mujamaaa and Wadi Al Dawasir within a fortnight.

STC CEO Jameel Al Molhem said that the company was the first to launch the 3G services in the region in 2006, the first to upgrade its network to HSPA technology, and is now providing a “quantum leap in customer experience” with data transfer speeds reaching more than 100 Mb/s.

The country’s third operator, Zain KSA has been working with Motorola, Ericsson and Huawei to build what it says is the world’s largest LTE network in the country, in a project that began in February 2010.

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