United Arab Emirates (UAE)-based telco Etisalat says it expects to invest AED4 billion (USD1.1 billion) during 2019 on ‘digital transformation’, including the upgrades of its mobile and fixed fibre networks. The firm, which switched on a pre-commercial 5G mobile network using 3.5GHz spectrum in May last year, is looking to roll out hundreds of 5G-enabled base stations by the end of this year. Etisalat expects the first 5G-capable handsets to be available in the UAE by June.
Besides its domestic operations, the telco has direct and indirect interests in 14 markets across the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
Hatem Bamatraf, chief technology officer at Etisalat International, is cited by Zawya as saying: ‘We are stepping into an era which marks the revolution of ‘Intelligent Connectivity’ underpinned by ubiquitous and hyper connectivity. This term is used to describe the powerful combination of flexible, high speed 5G networks, the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). This will have a significant and profound change on individuals, industries, society and the economy, transforming how we live and work.’ He added: ‘Etisalat foresees the future of connectivity and is already exploring use cases with new technologies and services that will blend our physical and digital world.’