Zain Iraq to upgrade network for arrival of 22m pilgrims
12 October 2017 | Alan Burkitt-Gray
Nokia is modernising Zain’s 2G and 3G networks in Iraq to handle what is expected to be one of the largest peaceful religious gatherings anywhere in the world.
The company is focusing on the city of Basra and the holy cities of Karbala and Najaf, which will receive millions of visitors during the pilgrimage of Zeyara, culminating in Arba’een on Thursday and Friday 9 and 10 November.
The upgrade will allow users to enjoy improved indoor and outdoor coverage in both urban and rural areas as well as increased data throughput, leading to an overall superior customer experience, said Nokia.
Zain Iraq CEO Ali Al-Zahid said: “Our top priority is to provide superior services for our subscribers. This network modernisation and expansion is only the beginning of providing the best possible service quality and coverage with the most advanced technologies across the overall Karbala and Najaf and rest of southern region.”
Bernard Najm, head of the Middle East market unit at Nokia, said: “Nokia’s solutions cater to the unique connectivity requirements of mass events, and will help Zain Iraq address the expected surge in data and voice consumption during Zeyara.”
It is believed that 22 million pilgrims gathered for last year’s event, which is an annual commemoration of the death of Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammad, in 680 CE.
Al-Zahid said: “We selected Nokia, our longstanding technology partner, for this important project, as we are confident that its advanced technologies will enable our network to provide such superior services. The current project will also enable a best-in-class mobile experience for visitors to Zeyara when we expect a high turnout this year.”
Nokia will refarm some 2G bandwidth on the 900MHz band for 3G use and will enhance 3G coverage and capacity of the existing network in Karbala. The company will use its Mass Event Handler to ensure network performance is not adversely affected because of heavy traffic during Zeyara.