Etisalat of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) says it expects to concentrate on non-standalone (NSA) 5G for the next two years before launching a standalone 5G network. The NSA standard enables 5G to operate utilising 4G LTE equipment, while the standalone mode uses dedicated spectrum and infrastructure. A report from TechRadar cites Hani Yassin, Group Senior Director for Technology Strategy at Etisalat, as saying: ‘We are taking a phased approach to maximise our return on investment and get confidence in the technology maturity.’
In the mid-term (three-to-five years), Yassin said that Etisalat will focus on high throughput and low latency for applications in the standalone mode when the new 5G core is ready, serving industrial applications such as port operations for operating cranes and vehicles wirelessly, and immersive VR experiences in gaming and training. In the long-term (five-to-ten years), he said that the focus will be on mission-critical services such as autonomous vehicles and remote surgery in the standalone mode.
Etisalat was one of the first operators in the Middle East to commercialise mobile 5G when it launched services last May. It had previously offered 5G only in fixed-wireless mode due to the lack of 5G-capable handsets on the local market.