UAE’s Etisalat claims first commercial 5G launch in MENA

The initial launch will focus on customer premises equipment devices rather than smartphones



UAE telecoms provider Etisalat said on Monday it had launched the first commercial 5G network in the Middle East and North Africa.

The announcement followed confirmation from the UAE’s Telecommunications Regulation Authority (TRA) in December that the country’s mobile operators would begin deploying ultra-fast 5G networks in phases from early this year.

Read: UAE to roll out 5G in early 2018

Under the first phase of the launch, Etisalat will provide 5G fixed wireless services in select locations and gradually expand to other parts of the country based on consumer demand and requirements.

These will be available to customers starting from September.

“Today’s announcement is a historic moment for the company as the commercial launch of the 5G network will set a milestone for the UAE,” said Etisalat CEO Saleh Al Abdooli.

“Etisalat today is the first telecom operator in the world to provide this ultra-high 5G C-band data speed as a commercial service over the wireless network.”

Fifth generation mobile technology is expected to fuel enterprise digital transformation plans, Internet of Things adoption, smart city initiatives and broader fourth industrial revolution objectives by providing faster data connectivity.

Etisalat said customers would be able to enjoy uninterrupted 4K video streaming, augmented reality and virtual reality services and autonomous transport.

In addition, the network will be able to handle more customers at the same time without service degradation.

5G-enabled smartphones are expected to become available next year while initial usage will focus on customer premises equipment (CPE) devices mainly deployed by enterprises.

Etisalat said its network offered downlink throughput of more than 5Gbps at a site level and 1.5Gbps using CPE devices.

The company first tested its 5G network in October 2016 and completed a number of trials last year.

Read: UAE’s Etisalat to invest $817m in infrastructure this year, completes 5G trial