Dubai – Etisalat’s pioneering efforts in 5G will pave the way for the ‘Future of Connectivity’ with innovation and digital transformation taking centre stage and leading the company to play a greater role in the digital lives of consumers and enterprises, said Hatem Bamatraf, Chief Technology Officer, Etisalat International at 5G MENA 2019.
Bamatraf was the keynote speaker at ‘5G MENA 2019’ in Dubai that held high-level keynotes, 5G use-cases, onstage debates and interviews, executive CxO summits, a series of networking opportunities, an awards ceremony, a day-long Blockchain and IoT focused stream.
As part of his keynote, he highlighted Etisalat’s continuous investments and focus on enhancing and building one of the most advanced networks in the region having empowered digital transformation and opening up opportunities to engage with our customers in new ways. Etisalat plans to invest AED4 billion during 2019 in digital transformation, mobile and fiber networks.
“We are stepping into an era, which marks the revolution of ‘Intelligent Connectivity’ underpinned by ubiquitous and hyper connectivity. This term is used to describe the powerful combination of flexible, high-speed 5Gnetworks, the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). This will have a significant and profound change on individuals, industries, society and the economy, transforming how we live and work.”
5G is a reality in UAE due to Etisalat’s pioneering efforts, which will enable subscribers to enjoy technologies blending physical and digital realms from AR & VR to IoT, AI, autonomous vehicles, advanced robotics, 3D printing, wearable tech and more. This is mainly due to the backbone of a robust and one of the most advanced, fastest and widest network in the region.
“Innovation was always at the core of our strategy to ‘Drive the digital future to empower societies’ putting our efforts on providing innovative solutions enabling connectivity, mobility, connected devices, energy efficiency, lower latencies and more reliability.”
Bamatraf reflected the successful journey of Etisalat setting a benchmark for the telecom industry. The major milestone for Etisalat and the telecom industry was the launch of the first commercial 5G wireless network in May 2018 in the UAE becoming the first telecom operator in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region to achieve this technological breakthrough and set an industry benchmark.
Etisalat was the first operator to have a fully developed commercial 5G network available to provide gigabit internet services to its customers. The network will fuel enterprises digital transformation, IoT, smart cities and the fourth industrial revolution.
He added that Etisalat’s network will also provide the most advanced digital and telecom services to Expo 2020 Dubai and its millions of visitors, supporting an expected 300,000 users on peak days. It will be a key component of the Expo 2020 ‘smart site’ that will deliver a unique and memorable experience for the millions of visitors.
In terms of 5G readiness, Etisalat is ready to launch the 5G service for all consumers
with its infrastructure and network equipped to support all 5G devices set to be launched by global mobile device manufacturers in 2019. With continuous investments in technology and innovation on the network, Etisalat’s infrastructure can enable 5G connectivity today for all fixed devices expected to be launched this year.
Etisalat’s technical teams are building 5G network sites to make this a reality and enable 5G coverage across the country. With 5G technology consumers will witness unprecedented maximum speeds of 10Gbps.
Bamatraf explained to the audience, he said: “Etisalat’s network and infrastructure will be ready to provide the service as soon as the 5Gmobile handsets are available in UAE. We are aiming to build 1000 5G towers across the UAE during 2019 to enable 5G coverage.
”We have started 5G planning across Etisalat Group footprint. In KSA, we started 5G trials since last year. Our commercial 5G plans gained big momentum when the KSA government released new spectrum in 2.6 GHz and 3.5 GHz bands this year.”
He added: “Mobily acquired 100 MHz in each band and commercial 5G launch is expected by the end of 2019, pending availability of commercial devices supporting Mobily’s specific spectrum bands. We believe that 5G can be a good substitute for fibre for fixed services in our emerging markets footprint. In that regard, we have started evaluating the technical and commercial viability of 5G for FWA (Fixed wireless Access) in some of our markets. These evaluations will help us in developing a road map for commercial FWA rollout in selected markets.”
With majority of 5G deployments to be implemented by 2020 on a global level, by the end of 2024 industry estimates indicate a projection of 1.5 billion 5G subscriptions accounting to 17 percent of all mobile subscriptions at that time. Etisalat foresees the future of connectivity and is already exploring use cases with new technologies and services that will blend our physical and digital world.