This blog is by Sukpreet Sandhu from the Networks business of Nokia.
The annual Hajj pilgrimage to Islam’s holy sites is a major challenge for Saudi Arabia’s national operator STC. With three million pilgrims gathered in an area of just 15 square km, the traffic density is immense as people share their experiences with friends and family. Growth in both voice and data traffic was more than 200 % above the previous year’s figures. “Together with Nokia, STC has been providing state-of-the-art voice and high speed data services,” says Eng. Bader A. Alluhaib, STC Network Operations GM.
Serving these huge numbers of users demands exceptional support. Despite the increases in traffic, Nokia Special Event Support services helped deliver a seamless experience for pilgrims to the Hajj. Nokia teams comprising of experts from Network Planning and Optimization, Care and Network Implementation facilitated the necessary capacity upgrades to prepare the network for the incredible traffic demands. Our engineers provided 24/7 field support and troubleshooting to maintain the network around the clock, with non-stop real time monitoring and remote support services underpinning their efforts. The 2G, 3G and 4G LTE network parameters were continuously tuned and sites proactively optimized to minimize blocked and congested cells. The Hajj project also serves as an outstanding reference for our Global Services team, which ensures smooth operation and maintenance of the networks in these extreme conditions.
Dr. Khaled H. Biyari, STC SV Technology & Operations, says, “The challenges to deploy a network to be able to serve customers during Hajj season is the most difficult task any mobile operator can go through. Our relationship with Nokia over the years has proven to be the most important for us as they have been able to support and help strategically position STC to perform in such a competitive environment.”
In fact, Nokia achieved 99.7- 100% network availability (2G, 3G, 4G/LTE) with LTE handling approximately 22% of the data traffic with 400 active users per cell. Hani Dib, Nokia Networks customer team head for STC, says, “The Hajj project is Nokia’s flagship reference for our customers worldwide. Therefore, it is imperative to exceed the expectations in every manner of execution. Timely planning and superb coordination between various teams are the cornerstones of our success. We always build on lessons learned and are truly committed to successfully delivering the most innovative and trustworthy technology in order to earn the highest level of customer confidence and satisfaction.” This sentiment has been captured in our Celebration Video above.
Hajj 1435 firsts
We supply all 2G, 3G, 4G radio networks and OSS solutions to STC in the Hajj region. As the world’s most compact, high capacity, software-defined base station for all these technologies, Nokia’s Single RAN Advanced platform Flexi Multiradio 10 Base Station is a major contributor to the operators’ success. For the first time, the event was covered by our innovative Multicontroller platform. Multicontroller RNC was deployed for Makkha and Haram, and Multicontroller BSC with Packet Abis was deployed for Haram. To balance the traffic load, 3G users could camp on any 3G carrier – a strategy that was implemented in the Hajj for the first time. Also, a new LTE layer (TDD 2300) was added to the network to offload 3G data traffic with an average LTE hourly data traffic per site exceeding that of the 3G sites.
“Nokia 2G BSS delivered 5400Erlang/km2, and we achieved both a superb Paging Success Ratio of over 90% and radio availability of over 99%. You can’t argue with statistics like these,” says Juha Pelkonen, head of Single RAN Base Station Technical Management at Nokia Networks. “They’re proof that our radio networks are prepared for special events of any kind!”
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