Tuesday, 6 November 2018

India: BSNL - WiFi Today, 5G in 2020

India is speeding ahead in a digital super-highway. The draft National Digital Communication Policy (NDCP) 2018 states following 2022 Goals:
a. Provide Universal broadband coverage at 50 Mbps to every citizen
b. Provide 1 Gbps connectivity to all Gram Panchayats of India by 2020 and 10 Gbps by 2022
c. Enable 100 Mbps broadband on demand to all key development institutions; including all educational institutions
d. Enable fixed line broadband access to 50% of households
e. Achieve ‘unique mobile subscriber density’ of 55 by 2020 and 65 by 2022
f. Enable deployment of public Wi-Fi Hotspots; to reach 5 million by 2020 and 10 million by 2022
g. Ensure connectivity to all uncovered areas

Digital India is already transforming the lives of 1.3 billion people. There is growth in e-governance, there is some progress towards cashless society, smart cities are growing and 'Made in India' smartphones are growing

With a view to narrow the digital infrastructure gap with the developed economies, the government is looking at establishing a ‘National Broadband Mission – Rashtriya Broadband Abhiyan’ to secure universal broadband access. The Draft NDCP 2018 has the following clauses:

(a) Implementation of the following broadband initiatives, to be funded through USOF and Public Private Partnerships:  i. BharatNet – Providing 1 Gbps to Gram Panchayats upgradeable to 10 Gbps  ii. GramNet – Connecting all key rural development institutions with 10 Mbps upgradeable to 100 Mbps  iii. NagarNet – Establishing 1 Million public Wi-Fi Hotspots in urban areas  iv. JanWiFi – Establishing 2 Million Wi-Fi Hotspots in rural areas 
(b) Implementing a ‘Fibre First Initiative’ to take fibre to the home, to enterprises and to key development institutions in Tier I, II and III towns and to rural clusters:  i. According Telecom Optic Fibre cables the status of Public utility  ii. Promoting collaboration models involving state, local bodies and private sector as necessary for provision of shared duct infrastructure in municipalities, rural areas and national highways  iii. Facilitating Fibre-to-the-tower programme to enable fiberisation of at least 60% base stations thereby accelerating migration to 4G/5G  iv. Leveraging existing assets of the broadcasting and power sector to improve connectivity, affordability and sustainability  v. Incentivising and promoting fibre connectivity for all new developmental construction  vi. By making requirement for telecom installations and the associated cabling and in-building solutions mandatory in in all commercial, residential and office spaces by amending National Building Code of India (NBC), through Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) 
(d) Facilitate the establishment of Mobile Tower Infrastructure by:  i. Extending incentives and exemptions for the construction of telecom towers  ii. According accelerated Rights of Way permissions for telecom towers in government premises  iii. Promoting deployment of solar and green energy for telecom towers 
(e) Improve international connectivity and reduce the cost of international bandwidth by facilitating setting up of International Cable Landing Stations by rationalising access charges and removing regulatory hurdles  i. Encourage sharing of active infrastructure by enhancing the scope of Infrastructure Providers (IP) and promoting deployment of common sharable, passive as well as active, infrastructure;
There are other clauses related to spectrum that we would not discuss here
State owned Indian telecom corporation Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) announced in March of this year that they had deployed 18,000 hotspots around the country and planned to deploy a total of 1,00,000 Wi-Fi hotspots across India by the end of 2018.

On that day BSNL, in partnership with QuadGen,  launched free wi-fi services at Udwada village, Valsad district in Gujarat. The village has been adopted by Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Minister Smriti Irani under Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana.

Speaking on the occasion, Irani - who is also Minister for Textiles - said,

"With the launch of wi-fi service today in Udwada village, population of 6,000 in the village, as well as its surrounding areas will be benefited. People in Udwada and surrounding areas will be able to use unlimited internet data and Udwada village has become digital village". 

The hotspots cover nearly 90 per cent of the village and will service multiple concurrent users at any point of time.

Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha hoped this service as part of the Digital India programme will fuel the availability of affordable data and voice services in the country. He asserted:

"The Digital India movement has ensured that the country has the cheapest data and voice services in the world. Today, India uses more data than the US and China, combined." 

More recently  BSNL has entered into a deal with Japan’s Softbank and NTT Communications to rollout 5G and internet of things (IoT) technology in India.

“We have signed an agreement with Softbank and NTT Communications to roll out 5G and IoT products and services in India. Under the agreement, we will look at solution specially for the smart cities,”

Stated BSNL chairman and managing director Anupam Shrivastava in an interview.
He said most of the BSNL competitors are still looking at monetising their 4G services and hence leading companies have started looking at the State-run firm for 5G services roll out. According to Mr Shrivastava:

“We have benefited by lead taken by our minister (Manoj Sinha). He has held various meetings at global level on 5G. We capitalised on those opportunities and signed agreement for the next generation technology. 3G was launched in India after seven years the technology was available in other foreign markets and 4G services after four years’ lag but 5G will be launched in India in 2020 as soon the standards are freezed by ITU."

Telecom minister Mr. Sinha has said that 5G service launch in India will happen at par with other leading nations.

Mr Shrivastava insists BSNL is working to finalise test cases where 5G can be used in India:
“We are in advance stages of starting 5G field trials. Government is in agreement to provide us 5G spectrum for trials. We expect to start field trials very soon,”

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has recommended the auction of about 8,644 MHz of telecom frequencies at an estimated base price of ₹ 4.9 lakh crore. The government is yet to finalise details of allocation of spectrum for 5G services.

Under the agreement with Softbank, BSNL will look at collaborating with the Japanese firm for its satellite constellation which will have around 900 satellites to provide high speed internet services across the globe.

BSNL has signed an agreement with Nokia and Cisco as well for developing 5G ecosystem.

BSNL has also and Swedish telecommunication gear maker Ericsson have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) over 5G and Internet of Things. The two will create a joint roadmap for the development of 5G and IoT in India, a joint statement to the media said. This new partnership with see BSNL and Ericsson develop “5G use cases, knowledge sharing on 5G technology concepts, industry and innovation trends including 3GPP standardisation progress.”

Meanwhile a week ago Nokia announced that it will supply, install, commission and maintain the Smart Telecom Poles across India in all of BSNL's telecom circles.

Under the contract, Nokia will also integrate the poles with smart LED lighting systems, CCTV cameras, digital billboards and environmental sensors that provide strong revenue generation potential for the operator.
The smart pole has been designed for emerging markets and built in India based on Nokia's global services expertise. With its Smart Telecom Pole and services expertise, Nokia will help BSNL provide access to mobile connectivity and smart solutions for citizens while ensuring the poles meet the aesthetic and spatial needs in modern cities. Nokia will optimize the telecom infrastructure to provide a shared, secure and scalable platform that ensures the best use of urban resources and prepares BSNL for the needs of new technologies such as IoT and 5G. The pole can be adapted to diverse geographical environments and climate conditions. It also houses a custom-designed power backup solution to provide continuity of services during power outages.

No doubt with these ambitious deals and plans BSNL is very much competing with Reliance Jio and not taking the roll out of Jio GigaFiber lightly and is doing its bit to maintain its market share in the fiber to the home (FTTH) segment.

BSNL Broadband has apparently once more revised its FTTH broadband plans to now offer more data and faster broadband speeds. BSNL Broadband is offering up to 100Mbps speeds till 750GB, and up to 2 Mbps speed beyond that limit at Rs 1277 monthly and Rs 14,047 annual charges. This facility is available for all users in all circles. 

Jio GigaFiber is offering 100Mbps speeds as well but for free for a period of three months at a onetime security deposit fee of Rs 4500.

BSNL Broadband too is taking no charges for activation and installation, but users are required to pay onetime security deposit fee of Rs 500 and ONT along with ADSL WiFi Modem charges come at Rs 200 rental per month and security deposit charges (refundable) of Rs 1500.

BSNL Broadband also recently announced an exciting offer for the Chennai circle. BSNL Broadband plans priced at Rs. 999, Rs. 1,299, Rs. 1,699, Rs. 1,999, Rs. 2,999, and Rs. 4,999, have reportedly been revised and upgraded to offer more benefits with speeds of up to 100Mbps and high speed data limits of up to 3.5TB, refreshed on a monthly basis, according to a report on NDTV.

However, what may give Jio GigaFiber the edge is the fact that they are offering a ‘connected home’, which means that Jio GigaFiber router will be able to connect with the Jio DTH and Reliance Jio enabled smartphones, thus converting a house into a smart home. Reliance Jio is also expected to offer all this at prices as low as Rs 500 per month.

Ultra HD entertainment, multi-party video conferencing, virtual reality gaming, shopping and smart home solutions at an affordable price is what is being offered by Jio GigaFiber. So, how existing broadband players adapt to this challenge can be seen after the commercial rollout of Jio GigaFiber.

Monday, 5 November 2018

AT&T: Winning the Connected Car market in the USA

AT&T has trumpeted their connected car achievements in a recent news article on their website. Their main achievements:

  • Added more than 2 million cars in Q3 2018
  • Bringing the total number of connected cars to nearly 24 million
  • Connect more than 3 million fleet vehicles
  • Relationships with 29 top global brands 
  • Over a million customers on unlimited data plans where they can convert their connected cars into Wi-Fi hotspots
  • Since the introduction of unlimited plans in 2017, subscribers have used 45 million Gigabytes (GB) or 45 Petabytes (PB) of data
  • AT&T global SIM provides IoT connectivity across 500 carriers and 200+ countries and territories. 
  • AT&T connects cars in 57 countries, including 12 where infotainment is enabled through Wi-Fi hotspots.

According to Fierce Wireless:

A number of those automotive companies physically install an AT&T LTE modem into their cars, thus giving customers an option to pay AT&T $20 per month (or $10 per month for existing customers) in order to create a bubble of Wi-Fi connectivity using AT&T’s LTE network for backhaul. (AT&T said it may slow network speeds for customers who use more than 22 GB per month.)

For those motorists who don’t have a car equipped with an AT&T modem, the company recently introduced the Harman “Spark” device that plugs into the on-board diagnostics port (OBD II) in most vehicles built after 1996 and provides Wi-Fi connections alongside vehicle diagnostics and security. (AT&T’s Spark arrived on the market years after Verizon launched its similar Hum device and T-Mobile began selling its SyncUp Drive device.)

In addition to the above achievements, AT&T are very active in V2X standardisation and implementation. Here is what they say:

We’re serving in leadership positions across the industry, joining with other tech leaders to resolve key standards issues. This includes 5GAA, a cross-industry association between the cellular and automotive industries, the Automotive Edge Computing Consortium  of automotive, information technology, telecommunications, and cloud computing sectors, and the Auto-ISAC for automotive cybersecurity information sharing.

We expect vehicle-to-anything (V2X) connectivity technologies will help driverless vehicles to make virtually real-time decisions based on information that goes beyond the individual sensors onboard the vehicle itself.

Vehicles will be able to “see” around corners, in front and behind other vehicles – and at greater distances. This will eventually allow vehicles to quickly make sense of their surrounding environment as well as road ahead to help guide safe and efficient operations on the road.

For self-driving cars to interoperate with their environment and surrounding areas, it will be critical to have connectivity between vehicles, roadside units, pedestrians, and other infrastructure elements while navigating the roadways. Data analysis and decision capabilities will be largely processed onboard the vehicle utilizing various data sources from the vehicles and the surrounding intelligent transportation system.

But one of the most exciting aspects of automated vehicles is their ability to learn from other vehicles’ driving experiences in ways that human drivers simply cannot. This is where our 5G network comes into play. 5G will eventually allow for the necessary distribution of processed data to meet and exceed the needs of the automated vehicle.

The algorithms that govern AV operation can be continually improved as automated vehicles encounter new driving situations. For those improvements to be made, data must be collected, analyzed, and synthesized into improved algorithms to then be distributed to other vehicles. 5G will ultimately help create faster and more efficient exchange of this data, allowing these automated vehicles to distribute and receive data and function even better.

5G multi-gigabit speeds, distributed edge networks, and low latency services can help these capabilities to become a reality in years to come.

And self-driving cars and 5G will ultimately usher new opportunities for in-vehicle entertainment and engagement when drivers have more time on their hands.

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Nigeria: Challenges of Africa's largest mobile market

Nigeria has Africa’s largest mobile market.. The four main telcos are MTN, 9mobile (formerly Etisalat), Airtel and Globacom. The country has a teledencity of 116 per cent.

Active mobile voice subscriptions on the MTN, 9mobile, Airtel and Globacom networks crashed from 154.7 million in January to 140.4 million in October, 2017 as subscribers responded to a poor economic climate. The initial rapid growth in the number of subscribers had led to problems with network congestion and quality of service, prompting the regulator to impose fines and sanctions on network operators. These operators have responded by investing billions of dollars in base stations and fibre transmission infrastructure to support the increasing demand for data. Although GSM technology still dominates there is a growing shift to services based on LTE.

MTN Nigeria is a junior company of Africa’s leading telecommunication company, MTN Group. MTN Nigeria is ranked no. 1 among the list of 101 best mobile network operators across Africa.

MTN was fined about $5.2 billion in October 2015, after it was discovered that some 5.2 million lines on its network were not properly registered. 

MTN Nigeria says it will start the commercial deployment of 5G technology before 2020.
MTN CEO stated,
“We will need a more stable economic climate to support the investment in the infrastructure. The issue of tax must be reviewed. There must be support for telecom infrastructure as national assets to be able to drive incremental investment and make the nation appealing to foreign investors. 5G will make our life better, drive incremental capacity and open up new businesses. MTN as a company is constantly making efforts to break barriers by democratising voice and data connectivity in order to improve subscriber experience, and has invested over N800bn in infrastructure in Nigeria.”
MTN had tested a range of 5G use cases and applications in its test lab proof of concept in South Africa, and promised to continue to identify 5G use cases and applications for the digital transformation of industries such as mining, transportation, agriculture, manufacturing and utilities.

Globacom, or the popularly known Glo, is a leading Nigerian mobile network operators. It was founded in 2003 and since then, Glo Mobile soared in being part of Africa’s communication life.

Glo Mobile offers low-cost prepaid and postpaid bundles for messaging, data, and broadband for private individuals and business developers. Glo Mobile is headquartered in Nigeria and is present in other big cities of Africa. Glo Mobile lowest bundle starts only at ₦50 and can go as high as ₦18,000 for larger scale of data. Glo Mobile has 25% share in the African market for its nearly 41 million active subscribers.

Bharti Airtel Ltd. is widely known as Airtel. Airtel is one of the largest Nigerian mobile network operator that is operating multinational. Headquartered in New Delhi, India, it is present in 20 countries across Africa and Asia. The company provides spectrum of network services like 2G, 3G, and 4G band and broadband solutions through DSL, IPTV, and DTH. Airtel has a broad menu of prepaid and business services for the public and private sectors. For only ₦100, you can start surfing the internet with Airtel.

In its 9 years of operation, 9mobile (previously Etisalat) has built up state-of-the-art telecom infrastructure and taken a leadership position of innovation and quality among mobile network operators operating in Nigeria. With the more recent launch of 4G LTE in October 2016, 9mobile is poised to drive the future of technology in Nigeria through the delivery of high speed data and quality voice services that will enable customers on its network to do more.

Saturday, 27 October 2018

5G Development and Progress in Singapore

The Singapore regulator IMDA (Info-communications Media Development Authority) recently presented at ITU-APT 26-28 GHz India 5G spectrum Workshop. This blog contains a summary of the presentation by Mr. Henry Foo, Senior Assistant Director in Policy, Regulation & Competition Development Group, IMDA.

To encourage 5G testing and development in Singapore, IMDA has waived any fees associated with spectrum during the trials. It is also doing co-existence trials with other stakeholders and spectrum in the 3.5GHz and 28GHz bands.

Remember that as pointed out in the tweet above, there is a possibility of interference between 4G & 5G. Singapore already has 1800 MHz (1.8 GHz) in use for LTE so trials need to identify the interference between 1.8 & 3.5 GHz.
As with most other countries, its looking at 700 MHz for coverage layer, 3.5 GHz for capacity layer and 26, 28 & 38 GHz for high throughput layer.

The operators in Singapore (M1, Singtel, Starhub) have similar concerns to operators elsewhere. How do you recover the investments in LTE before investing further into 5G? What are the killer use cases for 5G that will be a source for additional new revenue?
5G small cells are foreseen to play a big role in the mmWave spectrum for providing high throughput in low-mobility scenarios. Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) is another technology being trialed. FWA is going to be an interesting use case because Fiber to the home and premises (FTTH/FTTP) is easily available there with speeds upto 10 Gbps.

Back in July, Singtel announced that it will launch by the fourth quarter of this year Singapore’s first 5G pilot network at one-north, the country’s science, business and IT hub along with Ericsson. The pilot network can deliver 5G coverage with enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB) speed and low latency communications.
"Singtel and Ericsson are planning drone and autonomous vehicle trials on their 5G pilot network later this year at one-north and other designated areas. Enterprises can use the network to develop new 5G use cases and tap the business potential of 5G." 

M1 is working with Huawei & Nokia for 5G. First announcement with Huawei
M1 Limited (M1) and Huawei today announced plans to jointly showcase innovative 5G use cases in Singapore, starting with the live demonstration of 360-view Virtual Reality (VR) content broadcast by end of June this year. The demonstration, using 5G equipment setup at M1’s MiWorld building in Jurong, is Singapore’s first end-to-end 5G live trial using Huawei’s 5G equipment operating at the 28GHz millimetre wave (mmWave) frequency band.

The next announcement with Nokia, a day later.
M1 Limited (M1) and Nokia today announced plans to conduct Nokia’s first 5G small cell trial in Southeast Asia. The two companies will also showcase demand-driven 5G use cases in selected vertical industries which require dedicated small cell capacity and very low latency IoT connectivity. 
Leveraging on M1’s engineering experience in deploying an extensive 4.5G Heterogeneous Network (HetNet) at traffic hotspots throughout Singapore, this 5G small cell trial marks another important milestone in M1 and Nokia’s joint efforts in staying at the forefront of the  latest technology developments. The findings from this live trial will provide valuable practical learnings for the commercial deployment of 5G small cells in a dense cell grid architecture and operating at very high 5G frequency bands.

Starhub upgraded their LTE network to Gigabit LTE (4.5G or LTE-A Pro) back in April. It has announced that it will be switching on limited 5G by the end of the year.
"StarHub and Nokia have signed a multi-year agreement under which Nokia will deploy network upgrades using its advanced radio access, small cells, virtualised core and IP routing technologies as well as its cloud orchestration and signalling, network management, security, IoT, self-organising network and session border controller software."
Other operators from Southeast Asia a keenly watching 5G developments in Singapore to decide their way forward.

Thursday, 25 October 2018

The Rise of Reliance Jio Continues as it Acquires Over 250 Million Subscribers

Reliance Jio announced last week that it has crossed 250,000,000 subscribers. The following are some of the highlights from the announcement (emphasis mine):

  • Jio has accelerated its pace of subscriber additions further with net addition during the quarter of 37.0 million (as against 28.7 million in the previous quarter), highest in any quarter since the launch of commercial services
  • Gross adds at 41.7 million and churn of 4.7 million implying the lowest industry churn rate at 0.66% per month
  • Customer engagement continued to grow with average data consumption per user per month of 11.0 GB and average voice consumption of 761 minutes per user per month
  • Video consumption drove most of the usage, increasing to 410 crore hours per month on the network; average video consumption of 17.5 hours per subscriber per month
  • Further deepening of all-IP 4G LTE network in existing areas along with coverage expansion to 99% of population is on track to be completed in FY19
  • Only network to deploy tri-band (800MHz/ 1800MHz/ 2300MHz) pan-India 4G
  • World’s largest mobile data consumption network which is 5G ready
  • World’s largest VOLTE network, with voice traffic growing consistently
  • JioTV is the best rated live and catch-up TV app; JioCinema is the most popular video-ondemand app; JioMusic and Saavn together is music powerhouse with over 40 million songs; JioMags and JioNews are other highly popular customer offerings
  • Strengthened the KaiOS app-store for JioPhone users with customised versions of popular social media applications like YouTube, WhatsApp and Facebook
  • Reliance Retail Ltd launched the ‘Monsoon Hungama’ offer for JioPhone with upfront security deposit of only ₹ 501 for a new JioPhone during the quarter. The offer works in conjunction with return of an old feature phone. Also, JioPhone 2, which offers a larger screen and full QWERTY keyboard for a price of ₹ 2,999 has been offered through limited period flash sales. Most used social media applications like YouTube, Facebook and WhatsApp are now available for Jio Phone users

I blogged about Jio phone 2 earlier here. JioPhone (1) and JioPhone2 are both feature phones based on KaiOS. In fact I tweeted back in May that Jio has become a leader in feature phones.

According to Telecomtalk, it is widely expected that my March 2020, Reliance Jio will have over 400 million subscribers and over 150 million JioPhone users.

Finally, Communications Today has some interesting charts from Bloomberg. I am going to use one chart below to show how data prices have plummeted in India which is responsible for major uptake of data services.

Related Posts:

Sunday, 21 October 2018

China Mobile’s Targeted Poverty Alleviation System

From GSMA's 2018 Mobile Industry Impact Report: Sustainable Development Goals:

China has the largest agricultural sector in the world, and for the millions of people living in rural areas, agriculture is a way of life. However, there are still more than 30 million rural people living in poverty. To combat this, the Chinese government’s "targeted poverty alleviation strategy" aims to eradicate absolute poverty for all rural residents by 2020.

Introduced at the beginning of 2016, China Mobile’s Targeted Poverty Alleviation System (TPAS) consists of two parts: a mobile poverty application and a big data management & analytics platform. Through the system, government anti-poverty staff can use smartphones to collect information on rural families in poverty (to understand their health, diet and drinking conditions) to enable the government to manage poverty alleviation work more effectively. Concurrently, information and resources from NGOs and the government is shared (via the app) among the rural population, so that people can learn about poverty alleviation policies, apply for jobs, and access vital information (such as health advice or educational opportunities). China Mobile’s TPAS also enables rural poverty families to market and sell their agricultural produce through e-commerce channels, helping them to generate an income.

Impact: To date, China Mobile’s targeted poverty alleviation platform has been applied in 60 cities and counties in 10 provinces (namely Chongqing, Hunan, Henan, Anhui, Shanxi, Liaoning, Shannxi, Yunnan, Jiangxi, Ningxia) covering 7.18 million impoverished people and serving 710,000 poverty alleviation cadres. By 2020, China Mobile aims to cover 10 million impoverished people in China, to provide intelligent tools and link thousands of welfare resources to government staff, and help the government run targeted poverty alleviation policies.

Further Reading:

Saturday, 20 October 2018

Etisalat: Striving for 5G

Etisalat is a multinational Emirati based telecommunications services provider, with 143 million subscribers operating in 16 countries across Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Etisalat’s current market cap is over AED 156 billion (42.5 billion USD). With reported net revenues of AED 52.4 billion and net profit of AED 8.4 billion for 2016, Etisalat ranks amongst the most profitable telecom groups in the world.

Etisalat became one of the world’s fastest growing telecom operators; with customer numbers growing from 4 million to over 140 million in less than 10 years. Its international acquisition programme began in earnest in 2004 through the award of the second mobile license, and the first 3G license in Saudi Arabia. Since then the company has witnessed rapid expansion, across the Middle East, Africa and Asia through acquisitions and organic growth. Etisalat now has access to a population of close to 700 million people, with Thuraya; its satellite network provider covering over two thirds of the planet’s surface.
Etisalat’s focuses on delivering innovative solutions to transform the communities in which it operates and fast track social development and economic growth. The telco is committed to actively develop and engineer platforms for growth within the local markets in which it operates through the deployment of advanced technologies, quality networks and customer focused services.

Etisalat launched 4G mobile services in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, and presently operates the Middle East’s largest LTE network with population coverage exceeding 82 per cent. Etisalat offers both the Middle East’s fastest fixed line broadband service with speeds of up to 500Mbps - the highest mobile broadband connectivity speeds to date. It has also launched several 3G networks in its footprint including Egypt Afghanistan; Ivory Coast and Benin. These advancements have helped Etisalat capture market share with the introduction of mobile broadband services and affordable internet access.

In May 2018 Etisalat announced the launch of the first commercial 5G wireless network in the UAE becoming the first telecom operator in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region to achieve this technological milestone and set an industry benchmark.

Saleh Al Abdooli, CEO, Etisalat Group applauded the efforts of the entire team, he said:

"Today's announcement is a historic moment for the company as the commercial launch of the 5G network will set a milestone for the UAE. Etisalat today is the first telecom operator in the world to provide this ultra-high 5G C-band data speed as a commercial service over the wireless network.
5G stands out as a game changer with rich potential, an evolution that would elevate services, performance, and enablement. It is the natural progression as part of our network modernization journey, the anticipated technical specifications are promising, bringing along various desirable features and functionalities."
The aim to have a fully developed commercial 5G network available to provide gigabit internet services to its customers. The network will fuel enterprises digital transformation, IoT, smart cities and the fourth industrial revolution.

Etisalat is also set to launch 5G devices by first-half of 2019.

This year at Gitex, Etisalat also has a special exhibition on the future of mobility, which is the best use case for 5G. The arrival of 5G technology will allow faster data transmissions and will prove to be game changing for the autonomous industry. 

A download speed comparison between 4G and 5G live networks was showcased live giving visitors a chance to experience the "download time" difference between the two technologies by downloading a 4K HD movie/video using 4G and 5G e 5G use case that will focus on ultra-high speed and low latency. The exhibit will highlight the comparison of time to download a 4K video using 4G and 5G technology. The video(more than 1GB) download time is taken only 13 seconds as opposed to 4G, which takes approximately 2 minutes.

The download progress was displayed on the screen to show the time taken to download the file on each technology. Visitors will had the chance to observe the time taken to download a large size file on 4G and 5G concurrently.

Saeed Al Zarouni, Senior Vice President, Mobile Network, Etisalat highlighted:

 "This year our participation at Gitex Technology week is significant as visitors can experience live 5G giving them a preview of the digital future. Etisalat has also taken the lead in 5G this year and this showcase is a testimony to our long-standing efforts in bringing growth and innovation in the country laying the foundation for smart city development.
"The showcase is also in line with our main theme at Gitex this year 'Leading the 5G Revolution' and 'Driving the Digital Future to empower societies'. We believe 5G technologies and services will deliver capacity and connectivity along with opportunities for economic growth, education, healthcare, transportation and more."

Also on exhibited by Etisalat at Gitex is Pop.UpNext's Future Mobility Concept, an unmanned flying electric vehicle that is jointly developed by Audi, Airbus, and ItalDesign. Pop.Up Next's philosophy behind the design anticipates the challenges that the next 50 years will bring. It represents a vision of the potential offered by future technologies when it comes to transportation.

The concept aims to tackle issues linked to city planning and traffic in large urban centres that are increasingly becoming one of the priority aspects for safeguarding our planet. The Pop.Up Next system aims to free commuters from the need to drive through a flexible, shared and adaptable new way of moving within cities.

The vehicle combines the flexibility of a small two-seater ground vehicle with the freedom and speed of a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) air vehicle, thus bridging the automotive and aerospace domains.

The car itself is a self-driving, electric vehicle, it is the first fully electric and zero-emission modular system bringing together road mobility and air transport. It combines the flexibility of a small two seater ground vehicle with the freedom and speed of a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) air vehicle, thus bridging the automotive and aerospace domains. It can accelerate to 60mph in 9.7 seconds with a top speed exceeding 130kmph. The car features a curved 5K widescreen display that comes with voice and gesture control. The interactive display system, made by Harman, lets you do everything from watching movies to alerting you of upcoming obstacles, and even telling you when the light will turn green, through a vehicle-to-infrastructure communication system. The car also comes with a heads-up display to provide guidance when making turns when a driver is behind the wheel.

Etisalat also demonstrated an advanced 5G based drone equipped with a 360-degree VR camera and 4K streaming experience.

With IoT gaining popularity and the use of cyber-physical systems and advanced analytics to transform all aspects of the industry, Etisalat has also displayed tactile internet use cases where the robotic system is controlled remotely using the 5G technology. Tactile internet enables humans and machines to interact with their environment, in real time, while on the move and within a certain spatial communication range as well as enables haptic interaction with visual feedback. 

These 5G powered tactile production systems showcased for the first time support increasingly flexible production lines and safer working environments that will allow industry to enhance productivity, and respond to customer needs, as they continue on their digital transformation journey.