Future of mobile already here in UAE
Etisalat is now ready to launch a 5G service for all consumers, as its infrastructure and network is ready to support all 5G devices to be launched by global mobile device manufacturers in 2019, a senior official says.
"With continuous investments in technology and innovation on the network, etisalat's infrastructure can enable 5G connectivity today for all fixed and mobile devices expected to be launched in the first half of this year," Saeed Al Zarouni, senior vice-president for mobile networks at etisalat, told'Khaleej Times'on Saturday.
"Our management's strategy to focus on digital innovation and to 'drive the digital future to empower societies' have led to investments in superior and state-of-the-art technology solutions on the network," he added.
Etisalat allocated Dh3.6 billion in 2018 to continue investing in the modernisation of mobile and fibre-optic networks and infrastructure development through investments in future technologies such as the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and robotics. It reported 6 per cent year-on-year increase in net profit during first half of 2018.
Al Zarouni said that 5G will radically change the lives of the subscribers in the country. "With 5G, technology consumers will witness a maximum speed of 4.5Gbps; on 4G, the maximum speed was up to 600Mbps. The network can now provide faster data connectivity combined with higher speed," he said.
He said the larger bandwidth will provide the capability to handle larger number of connections in any geographical area.
"With ultra-high speed and low latency services to the userm 5G will enable users to enjoy uninterrupted 4K video streaming, best gaming experience, AR/VR services and autonomous transport. The 5G network will also empower government entities and the enterprise digital transformation, smart city development and the fourth industrial revolution," he added.
Rasheed Al Omari, principal business solutions strategist at VMware, said 5G will most certainly be a game-changer in the UAE's telecoms sector as its capacity and speed is unprecedented. 5G has the capacity to allow 10,000 times the volume of traffic on the network compared to 4G - these are staggering numbers.
"It can provide peak capacity of 10 gigabytes per second and can allow 100 times more devices to be connected compared to current 4G networks. It is also far more efficient than 4G, so devices connected to the Internet of Things can see their battery life extended by 10 times.
"But the real game-changing aspect of 5G is the services that it will unlock: think holographic conference calls and live streaming 3D video from live events, the ability for surgeons to carry out operations remotely by controlling robots and viewing the patient in virtual reality."
"In every sector, from government to education, healthcare and manufacturing, 5G will enable countless applications in the UAE. It will also be instrumental in enabling smart city applications including autonomous cars, drones and robots. 5G is the gatekeeper to a world of applications that sci-fi writers have dreamt about for years," he added.
Sanmeet Singh Kochhar, general manager for the Middle East at Nokia maker HMD Global, said the mobile device market in the region is rapidly growing, driven by technological innovation and increasing smartphone and Internet penetration.
"Major GCC operators are already speeding up the deployment of 5G networks and according to the latest GSMA report for the Middle East, 15 markets will have launched 5G mobile services across the Mena region by 2025, including the UAE," he told'Khaleej Times.
Journey towards 5G
Etisalat's pioneering efforts in 5G were mainly due to its continuous investments and focus on enhancing and building one of the most advanced networks in the region and globally. The company embarked on its 5G journey in 2014 when it started constructing the network with a dedicated team of engineers and specialists dedicated to build one of the most advanced networks in the region.
In 2016, Etisalat Group signed a premier partnership deal with Expo 2020 Dubaim which aimed to make it one of the fastest, smartest and best-connected places in the world during the global mega event. Etisalat will enable Expo 2020 Dubai to provide visitors and participants with a cutting-edge and immersive digital experience that brings the Expo themes to life for the 25 million expected visitors. Etisalat will also provide on-site Wi-Fi capable to handle up to 300,000 people on-site in a day.
Another significant milestone in 2016 was the successful completion of the first live 5G experiment using millimetre waves. This showcase was the first of its kind in the Mena region with etisalat becoming the first telco globally to test speed at 36Gbps on a 5G network at Gitex Technology Week. This was followed with another global milestone at Gitex in 2017 with a speed showcase of 71Gbps setting a new global record in data transfer speed using e-band and massive Mimo technology.
In 2018, etisalat set global benchmarks in 5G in technology and on the network. It successfully conducted a 5G trial with outdoor mobility at its headquarters in Abu Dhabi. The trial demonstrated 5G capabilities in a real-world environment over a live network, including tests on speed, latency and beam steering.
The 5G trial system used 800MHz of spectrum in the 15GHz band, demonstrated over 20 times greater performance than what was currently used in 4G networks. The trial also achieved an aggregate site throughput of more than 24Gbps a significant improvement over current 4G networks.
Another major milestone for etisalat and the telecom industry was the launch of the first commercial 5G wireless network in the UAE becoming the first telecom operator in the Mena region to achieve this technological milestone and set an industry benchmark.