In a step towards supporting the UAE’s digital transformation and honouring its 5G commitment to both du and Virgin Mobile UAE customers, Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (EITC) today announced advanced level of preparation to roll-out 5G services in the UAE in 2019. Prominent landmarks across the UAE in all seven Emirates are currently being installed with high-technology 5G equipment and will be the first areas to have commercial 5G mobile network capabilities once compatible handset are available later this year.  EITC will roll out more than 700 5G-enabled base stations by end of 2019.  With this development, EITC will be among the first telecom operators in the world to deploy 5G in 2019.

While the pace of 5G network deployment will depend on the availability of 5G terminals, eventually, fast and stable 5G connections are expected to become a competitive alternative to fixed broadband for both individual and business customers. The first phase of terminals include CPEs (Customer Premise Equipment) that will be followed by mobile handsets.  

Making the announcement, Saleem AlBlooshi, Chief Infrastructure Officer, Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (EITC), said: “Offering a true 5G service requires an end-to-end upgrade for access, transport and core network elements. We are excited to update our customers that with the support of our strategic partners, we are fully on schedule to make 5G commercially available this year. Our customers will feel a real difference with 5G network in terms of higher speeds and lower latency – commonly known as ‘buffering’.  Consumption of video and digital content is growing by leaps and bounds and 5G’s ultra-high speed will enable smoother streaming of HD videos, 4K videos, and VR/AR experience which have multiple potential applications for individuals and businesses.” 

“It is worthwhile to add that speed, low latency and massive capacity are the three pillars of 5G and most telecom operators usually face challenges to successfully capitalise on them – and 5G presents us with this golden opportunity,” he added.

5G vision

·         As early as 2015, du successfully demonstrated 5G radio proof of concept using real life use cases including eHealth and a 4K ultra high- definition video experience. It also rolled-out 4G Plus (LTE-Advanced) technology as a precursor to 5G in the same year that helped double the throughput and broadband service speeds.

·         The U5GIG Lab – launched in 2016 by du – from EITC, continues to grow in stature and attract support of major technology powerhouses and major centres of academic excellence. The lab consortium currently consists of academic partners including Dubai University, Rochester Institute of Technology Dubai, Sharjah University, American University of Sharjah, University of Ras Al Khaimah and University of Wollongong in Dubai, as well as technology partners Libelium, SAP Software Solutions, Vision Valley, Intel, Nokia, MediaTek, Hal Technology and Schneider Electric. The consortium continues to work together, using their expertise to define and develop a global 5G network that will positively impact life in the UAE.

·         In 2016, du, from EITC announced an ambitious strategic partnership with Smart Dubai to develop Smart Dubai platform (now known as Dubai Pulse) unites city services, IoT, cloud services, Big Data and digital identity across all city dimensions to build the most comprehensive exchange point for government and private sector services, delivering unprecedented value and 5G future for the city.

·         In June 2017, du successfully tested massive MIMO technology, one of the 5G core components, hitting records with a productivity rate of 700 megabytes by using only one data transfer at the frequency of 20 megahertz.

First phase of 5G network to provide ultra-high speed mobile broadband experience – experience 10x speeds than 4G-LTE