Picture for illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Agency

Abu Dhabi: Etisalat successfully completed the first end-to-end 5G Stand-alone call in the region and has become the first operator in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region to achieve the milestone.

Saturday’s announcement is a result of the test conducted in the 3.5GHz carrier with a spectrum of 100MHz. Using a Stand-alone (SA) smartphone, throughput of over 1.5Gbps was achieved in download speed and 200 Mbps on the upload speed.

Stand-alone 5G does not use 4G LTE for any control functions of 5G, unlike non-stand-alone (NSA) 5G. The major advantages of stand-alone 5G will be in the enterprise arena as lower latencies can be achieved and network slicing is possible.

Saeed Al-Zarouni, Senior Vice-President, Mobile Network at Etisalat, said: “This achievement has positioned UAE on a global platform, giving us an opportunity to share our experience and set an example for other operators in the region. The launch of 5G stand-alone will enable the application of 5G use cases across industry verticals optimising the capabilities of the network. This will also enable provisioning of the 5G network for automated and AI based technologies.”

Saturday’s announcement is a result of Etisalat’s efforts in building a robust 5G network that is software upgradeable from non-stand-alone (NSA) to stand-alone technology.

Etisalat became the first telco in Mena in May 2018 to launch the commercial 5G network providing fixed wireless service in the UAE. This was followed by another major substantial breakthrough in our 5G journey by connecting and partnering with Expo 2020 as the first major commercial customer in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region to access 5G services.

In May 2019, Etisalat was the first telecom operator in Mena to enable its customers to experience the power of the 5G network and release the first 5G handset before many others.

Etisalat also became the first telco in Mena to provide indoor 5G coverage in selected buildings in the country. Abu Dhabi Airport became the first international terminal to be powered with indoor ultra-high speed 5G connectivity.