Etisalat has successfully completed the first end-to-end 5G Standalone (SA) call in the UAE and has become the first operator in the MENA region to achieve this milestone. Keeping in line with its overall strategy and vision of ‘Driving the Digital Future to Empower Societies’, Etisalat has maintained its leadership position due to its continuous innovation and digital transformation setting a benchmark in the region.
Today’s announcement is a result of the test conducted in the 3.5GHz carrier with a spectrum of 100MHz. Using a Standalone (SA) smartphone, the throughput of over 1.5Gbps was achieved in download speed and 200Mbps on the upload speed. Standalone 5G does not use 4G LTE for any control functions of 5G, unlike non-standalone (NSA) 5G.
The major advantages of standalone 5G will be in the enterprise arena as lower latencies can be achieved and network slicing is possible. Saeed Al Zarouni, Senior Vice President, Mobile Network at Etisalat, said: “Etisalat has led in bringing the latest in innovation and modern technology to the network. In 5G, we have paved the way in terms of launching the network and service, today’s announcement is yet another benchmark in UAE and MENA. This achievement has positioned UAE on a global platform, giving us an opportunity to share our experience and set an example for other operators in the region. The launch of 5G standalone will enable the application of 5G use cases across industry verticals optimising the capabilities of the network. This will also enable provisioning of the 5G network for automated and AI-based technologies.”
The announcement is a result of Etisalat’s efforts in building a robust 5G network that is software upgradable from non-standalone (NSA) to standalone technology. “Etisalat’s focus was always to ensure the capabilities of 5G are fully captured, enabling the seamless management of upgrades and migration from NSA to SA,” said the company. “Etisalat’s success in 5G was due to its long term planning and investments in its infrastructure, first trials and strategic partnerships started as far back as 2014.”
Etisalat set a major benchmark in the industry by becoming the first telco in MENA in May 2018 to launch the commercial 5G network providing fixed wireless service in the UAE. This was followed by another major substantial breakthrough in our 5G journey by connecting and partnering with Expo 2020 as the first major commercial customer in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia (MEASA) region to access 5G services.
In May 2019, Etisalat was the first telecom operator in MENA to enable its customers to experience the power of the 5G network and release the first 5G handset before many others. Etisalat also became the first telco in MENA to provide indoor 5G coverage in selected buildings in the country. Abu Dhabi airport became the first international terminal to be powered with indoor ultra-high-speed 5G connectivity.