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Etisalat powers 5G at Expo 2020 Dubai, the region’s first commercial customer

From left: Saeed Al Zarouni, Senior Vice President, Mobile Network at Etisalat with Mohammed Alhashmi, Senior Vice President, Innovation and Future Technology at Expo 2020 Dubai.

Expo 2020 Dubai is slated to become the first major commercial customer in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region to access 5G services, through its partnership with Etisalat.

Making the announcement  at a press meet, along with a demonstration of real-time wireless 5G connectivity, on 10 July 2018 at the Expo 2020 site, Mohammed Alhashmi, Senior Vice President, Innovation and Future Technology at Expo 2020 Dubai, said: “Becoming the first major 5G commercial customer in the MEASA region is a major milestone for UAE and Dubai, and supports Expo 2020’s goal to be one of the most connected places on Earth, both physically and virtually.”

Etisalat’s network will reportedly provide the most advanced digital and telecom services to Expo 2020 Dubai and its millions of visitors, supporting an expected 300,000 users on peak days. At around 20 times faster than 4G and with ultra-low latency, 5G technology will enable users to stream live 4K resolution video with latency reportedly at one millisecond.

The press meet concluded with a  demonstration of the 5G wireless network. A total of 16 channels were shown streaming in 4k with a reported latency of one millisecond. In addition, streaming of content recorded on a 360-degree camera placed in a drone was also demonstrated. The streaming was shown to be in excess of the one Gbps standard for 5G hovering around the 1.36 Gbps mark.

While  partnerships with the broadcast industry and other stakeholders are reportedly “down the road” , the customer-premise equipment (CPE) to capture 5G signals is slated to be commercial available by the end of the year.

Commenting on the initiative, Saeed Al Zarouni, Senior Vice President, Mobile Network at Etisalat, said: “The announcement is significant, with Etisalat setting a global benchmark that supports UAE’s 2021 Vision, which identifies digital technology as one of the top seven primary national sectors.”

5G connectivity will be a key component of the Expo 2020 ‘smart site’, Alhashmi stressed making for an “immersive and memorable experience for visitors and will be offered free of charge”.

Commenting on the long-term plans, Zarouni stated that Etisalat’s 5G network will help attract top tier companies to District 2020, the mixed purpose development that will carry on Expo 2020’s legacy as a place to connect, create and innovate.

Expo 2020 will run from 20 October, 2020 to 10 April, 2021 and expects to attract 25 million visits. About 70% of visitors are expected to come from outside the UAE, the largest proportion in the 167-year history of World Expos.

International standardisation of 5G parameters is expected to be announced later this year. While video streaming, VR and AR technologies were mentioned as key in terms of platforms benefitting from 5G connectivity, other applications such as networking vehicles, including autonomous driving, the Internet of Things (IoT) and industrial automation, were also mentioned at the press meet.

Zarooni stressed that demand will drive expansion of the 5G network in the future, as it did with the 4G network.