UAE telecoms provider Etisalat will invest more than Dhs3bn ($816.7m) in infrastructure upgrades and expansion this year after completing its fastest 5G trial to date.
Group CEO Saleh Al Abdooli told state news agency WAM the funds would be used to modernise infrastructure, expand mobile and fibre optic networks and develop capabilities in internet of things, artificial intelligence and robotics solutions.
He said the company had invested Dhs31bn ($8.44bn) in its network to date, helping 3G mobile network coverage to reach 99.58 per cent, 4G LTE coverage 97.78 per cent and fibre-to-the-home penetration 93.28 per cent.
“We are now working to complete the 5G network infrastructure to align it with the international standards for the launch in 2020. Etisalat is also preparing the infrastructure for the Expo Dubai 2020 network to become one of the fastest, smartest and most advanced networks in the world to ensure that visitors enjoy an exciting digitally enhanced experience,” he added.
5G technology is expected to be a key enabler for connected devices and new technologies like artificial intelligence by providing the capacity to support them.
The 5G trial, announced today, was conducted over e-band using 2Ghz of bandwidth. It achieved a global record speed of 71Gbps.
The company is showcasing a pre-commercial 5G site at this weeks Gitex conference in Dubai showing use cases including streaming of 4K video, robotic surgery and virtual reality.
Etisalat announced a 14.7 per cent drop in second quarter net profit attributable to shareholders in July
The lower profit was due to higher impairments and a slump in revenues.
The company competes with local player du for market share and recently launched its own mobile service targeting younger users last month.
This followed du’s launch of the Virgin Mobile brand in the UAE.