Industry Thought Leadership

Etisalat Launched 5G C-band Network as the First Regional Telecom Operator in May 2018

January, 2019
Saeed Al Zarouni
SVP/Planning Department


Etisalat was the first telecom operator in the region to provide ultra-high 5G C-band data speed as a commercial service over the wireless network in May 2018.

This was followed by the prestigious and global achievement of connecting and announcing Expo 2020 Dubai as the first major commercial customer in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region to access 5G services. Etisalat connected Expo 2020 Dubai to its 5G network, the first World Expo to be connected on this network.

Etisalat is now ready to launch 5G service for all consumers with its infrastructure and network ready to support all 5G devices 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 and mobile devices expected to be launched in the first half of this year.

Expo 2020 Dubai was Etisalat’s first major commercial customer in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region to access 5G services. Etisalat connected Expo 2020 Dubai to its 5G network, the first World Expo to be connected on this network.

Saeed Al Zarouni, Senior Vice President, Mobile Networks, Etisalat said: “Etisalat’s technical teams are building 600 5G sites to enable 5G coverage across the country. Our network and infrastructure will be ready to provide the service as soon as the 5G mobile handsets are available in UAE. 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.”

Al Zarouni added that 5G will radically change the lives of the subscribers in the country, he said: “With 5G technology consumers will witness maximum speed of 4.5Gbps and on 4G the maximum speed was upto 600Mbps. The network can now provide faster data connectivity combined with higher speed. 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 user 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.”

Etisalat successfully conducted a 5G trial with outdoor mobility at its headquarters in Abu Dhabi in 2018. 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 Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region to achieve this technological milestone 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.

In the first phase of the 5G launch, fixed wireless services and mobile services will be provided in selected locations in UAE, which will gradually expand to other parts of the country depending on consumer demand and requirements. The commercial fixed and mobile devices will be available for consumers in this phase. Etisalat was aiming to achieve a download speed of 5Gbps for wireless access and more than 1.5Gbps for CPE (customer premises equipment) devices.

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