Etisalat in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has launched what it calls a ‘comprehensive’ commercial 5G Standalone (SA) network. Having introduced a Non Standalone (NSA) 5G service in 2018 using a combination of 4G and 5G infrastructure, the operator says the switch to a full 5G network will offer ‘a significant improvement’ for its business and residential customers. The 5G SA system is also ‘essential for innovative use cases,’ Etisalat adds, including Industry 4.0, industrial IoT, commercial augmented and virtual reality, and large-scale digital sensing. Services have initially been made available for fixed wireless access (FWA) rather than true mobility, and the company’s press release adds that its new ‘nationwide’ network can ‘serve as an alternative broadband option for businesses’, ‘comparable to fibre-optic connections’, by leveraging the advantages of 5G SA FWA.

Etisalat UAE deployed a multi-vendor 5G Dual Mode core network designed to co-exist efficiently with existing networks. The 5G SA network is based on Service Based Architecture (SBA) and provides capabilities including network slicing (allowing it to be partitioned into multiple, logically isolated networks for different customers based on their needs) and edge computing (bringing computing resources closer to users, reducing latency and improving the performance of applications).

Khalid Murshed, Chief Technology & Information Officer at Etisalat UAE, said: ‘We are pleased to announce our successful investment in 5G Standalone technology. This is a significant milestone as we look to deliver end-to-end 5G solutions in UAE, providing our customers with the latest digital innovations and superior experience and laying the foundation for new revenue streams.’

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