Dubai: Thanks to a new router, etisalat subscribers will now be able to connect their computer networks to the internet in areas previously outside the reach of the UAE's telecom operator, the company announced on Sunday.
The new router will use a SIM card to connect to etisalat's 3.5G mobile phone network. Routers, a standard piece of hardware that connect computer networks to the internet, normally require a physical connection, but the recent construction boom in the emirates have left numerous companies and residents waiting for the telecoms to extend the range of their existing infrastructure.
The 3.5G network will allow companies to bridge that gap until a permanent, physical connection can be made.
Ahmad Mokhles, a senior manager for etisalat's commercial segment, said the SIM-card solution is being focused primarily at small and medium businesses, although the router can also be used to set up a home network. Mokhles said the card is not intended as a replacement for the company's normal, landline-based service.
"Broadband everywhere is the future of internet services and through products such as the router, we are bringing this future to reality in the UAE," said Eisa Al Haddad, etisalat's chief marketing officer, in a press release.
The new router will allow subscribers to access the internet at speeds of up to 7.2 mbps, although average speeds will be slower.
According to etisalat, their 3.5G service covers 98 per cent of the populated areas of the UAE. The router comes with four ethernet ports and a WiFi connection, which allows up to 32 people to use the network simultaneously.
The router is plug-and-play, which means it does not require any special software to be installed on the computer. The new router sells for Dh999 and can be purchased at etisalat business centres.
Unlike most routers, which need to be plugged into a standard electrical connection, the etisalat router can be power by a computer's USB port, making it a portable modem as well.
"Imagine you're in a taxi travelling from Abu Dhabi to Dubai," Mokhles said. "You'll be able to use this router to connect to the internet and work from the taxi."
Because the router used a network designed for mobile phones, users will also be able to make voice calls and send SMS provided they have the appropriate software on their computers.
Using 3G connections to connect computers to the internet is still relatively new. Fujitsu-Siemens and Dell have both released laptops in the last year that can use 3G connections, but the technology does not allow networking.
etisalat has also rolled out a new data package that will allow subscribers to download 10GB of data for Dh460 per month. Normal, 'pay-as-you-go' fees are two fils for every kilobyte, but other data packages are also available.