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Tue 10 Jul 2018 02:09 PM

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Etisalat switches on first 5G network at Expo 2020 Dubai site

Expo 2020 is the first major commercial customer for 5G connectivity in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia

Etisalat switches on first 5G network at Expo 2020 Dubai site

UAE-based telecoms giant Etisalat on Tuesday revealed that the Expo 2020 site in Dubai is the first to have a 5G network.

“We have 5G available now,” said Expo 2020 Dubai’s innovation and future technology chief, Mohammed Alhashmi minutes after UAE telecom operator Etisalat pulled the switch on the first use towards what is intended to be “the most connected city on Earth”.

At a speed of 1.3 gbps (gigabits per second) the network is already more than twice as fast as the typical 4G networks in the world which average speeds of 600 mbps (megabits per second).

The higher bandwidth, coupled with lower latency levels – 1 millisecond vs the up to 20 milliseconds 4G networks average globally – will allow for real world applications that are currently nearly impossible to achieve.

At the demonstrations held on Tuesday, Etisalat showed how its 5G testing connection could stream 4K footage, or stream 360 degree video feeds from high powered drones to virtual reality goggles.

“These functions are impossible with 4G, and can’t be done at all unless you deploy fibre networks because they are very bandwidth intensive. 5G will allow this over mobile broadband,” said the Etisalat’s Saeed Zarouni, senior vice president, mobile networks, Etisalat.

“All applications including autonomous cars, healthcare, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things will now be possible,” he said, adding that consumers will start to begin seeing the effects of its deployment soon as well.

“Initially we are providing fixed wireless services. High definition TV services such as 4k video will be available from September. By the end of the first half of 2019 is when the first 5G handsets will begin coming on to the market and you will see 5G available for consumer deployment,” he said.

Expo 2020 Dubai’s District 2020 site is being prepped to be “the smartest, fastest and most connected site on Earth,” added Zarouni.

Expo 2020 Dubai will deploy more than 200 kilometres of fibre, 8,000 WiFi access points, 2,000 5G indoor antennas, and 2,000 4G antennae, Alhashmi said.

“Not everyone might have a 5G handset so we have to take care of everyone else that is still on 4G,” he added.

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