Etisalat of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has completed what it claims was the first Standalone 5G call in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The test call was conducted using 100MHz of spectrum in the 3.5GHz band. Using a Standalone smartphone, download throughput of over 1.5Gbps was achieved, with an upload speed of 200Mbps. Unlike Non-Standalone (NSA) 5G, Standalone does not use 4G LTE for any control functions.
Saeed Al Zarouni, Senior Vice President for Mobile Networks at Etisalat, said: ‘This achievement has positioned UAE on a global platform, giving us an opportunity to share our experience and set an example for other operators in the region. The launch of 5G Standalone will enable the application of 5G use cases across industry verticals optimising the capabilities of the network. This will also enable provisioning of the 5G network for automated and AI-based technologies.’
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Etisalat launched its 3.5GHz 5G network in the UAE in September 2018, though initially only in fixed-wireless mode. It began offering true mobile 5G services in May this year.