People using their phones in Dubai. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News Archives

Dubai: The launch of 5G early next year is in line with the UAE’s strategy on the fourth industrial revolution, and the implementation of artificial intelligence and smart cities, according to the UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA).

Having 5G will also allow the UAE to improve its global competitiveness, the telecoms regulatory body said on Sunday.

The announcement for the 5G early 2018 launch comes a day after the authority officially announced the implementation of IMT-2020, also known as 5G.

Hamad Obaid Al Mansouri, director general of the TRA, said the launch will make the UAE among the first countries applying 5G technology in telecommunications.

“Rapid global developments and the transition of humanity to the era of the fourth industrial revolution have enhanced the status of this sector, making it the main nerve of major digital transformations, and the incubator of evolution on all tracks including science, economy, education, or other vital fields,” he said in a statement.

Mobile operators in the country are expected to start deploying 5G networks from early 2018.

In a statement on Sunday, TRA said that licensees from mobile operators in the country will start deploying the technology in several phases, allowing for the development of information and communications technology infrastructure. 5G refers to the fifth generation of broadband cellular network technology.

In a separate statement, telecom operator etisalat confirmed it is launching the first 5G ultra-mobile broadband experience in the region. A pre-commercial 5G network has been deployed in certain locations within the UAE, it added.

Internet of Things

Meanwhile, etisalat said it has already tested out 5G services using an advanced 5G drone that is equipped with a 360-degree camera with 4K streaming. This achieved up to 5Gbps in downlink with low latency and massive Internet of Things connections.

In its statement, etisalat said it will continue the development and deployment of 5G network, with targets to offer that to consumers and businesses with “extremely high speeds [and] low latency.”

“In addition to the 5G and smart city strategies, we will continue our digital transformation journey by further developing new capabilities including artificial intelligence, cloud computing, network virtualisation and automation, and internet of things,” said Saleh Al Abdooli, group chief executive officer of etisalat.

The telecom provider added that it will deploy 5G services in major UAE cities during 2018 in preparation for major upcoming events including the World Government Summit, AFC Asian Cup, and the Expo 2020.

Similarly, du announced its readiness and compliance, saying that it is working with partners to operate field trials in select areas in Abu Dhabi and Dubai starting from the first quarter of 2018.

Osman Sultan, chief executive officer of Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (du), said that 5G will be a “key enabler of futuristic technologies,” such as machine-to-machine communications, internet of things, and smart cities.

As part of its plans to roll out 5G, TRA formed three committees to establish a framework in the UAE and test the new networks. The Authority said that 5G-enabled services will form a key element to enhance services provided in sectors such as smart learning and education, smart health devices, energy, and other sectors.

TRA said it will also consider 40 gigahertz ranges for 5G beyond the year 2020.