Etisalat Committed to 5G Leadership
Dr. Ahmed Bin Ali, SVP, Corporate Communication, Etisalat Group
Etisalat has demonstrated strong commitment to sustaining its technological leadership by investing in emerging and next generation technologies. Our investment in 5G technologies is a prime example because it is considered a major enabler for the next generation of broadband services and the Internet of Things, which is growing exponentially due to the global adoption of connected devices. With its implementation, 5G will provide opportunities for economic growth and massive developments in the areas of ICT infrastructure, education, employment, transportation and more. Within that context, we successfully launched the first 5G fixed broadband experience in the region with commercial 5G networks deployed in locations around the UAE.
This year, we had some significant initiatives that set global benchmarks in support of UAE’s 2021 vision, which identified digital technology as one of the top seven primary national sectors. Etisalat’s main objectives from 5G is to generate incremental 5G revenue via new use cases, adding value to shareholders and delivering world-class customer experiences.
5G has an incredibly rich potential that will deliver faster speeds and lower latency. It will be a critical building block in the economic competitiveness for the UAE. 5G service availability will provide high data rates with ultra-low latency, which will far exceed 4G, providing unlimited access to all kinds of applications and services and will drive innovation, efficiency and productivity to a wide range of business and industrial sectors of the UAE. Etisalat is focusing on IoT opportunities for 5G in the enterprise space and will work closely with various verticals, including smart health, security, financial and transportation amongst others. While we will also explore consumer applications such as AR/VR gaming, 4K streaming, smart homes, high quality content downloading etc.
5G Powering Innovative Use Cases Across Region
Etisalat is looking at a diverse number of use cases that will be powered by 5G connectivity. Ultra-fast broadband is the most obvious and at a recent event we demonstrated download speed comparisons between live 4G and 5G networks which gave an indication of the ‘download time’ difference between the two technologies by downloading a 4K HD movie/video using 4G and 5G simultaneously. The video which was more than 1GB took only 13 seconds to download on 5G compared to 4G, which took approximately 2 minutes. We have also introduced innovations in other areas:
Flying Cars/ Automotive: The arrival of 5G technology will also be game changing for the automotive industry. We recently showcased a flying car for the first time outside of Europe. It’s the first fully electric and zero-emission modular system that brings road mobility and air transport together. It combines the flexibility of a small two-seater ground vehicle with the freedom and speed of a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) air vehicle, thus bridging the automotive and aerospace domains.
Tactile Internet: With IoT gaining popularity and the use of cyber-physical systems and advanced analytics transforming all aspects of the industry, Etisalat is also working on tactile internet use cases where a robotic system is controlled remotely using 5G technology. The tactile internet enables humans and machines to interact with their environment, in real time, while on the move and within a certain spatial communication range as well as enable haptic interaction with visual feedback. These 5G powered tactile production systems support increasingly flexible production lines and safer working environments that will allow industry to enhance productivity and respond to customer needs, as they continue on their digital transformation journey.
Robomart: We are also working on a new seamless shopping experience that uses facial recognition, artificial intelligence, image recognition and computer vision technologies. Etisalat joined forces with 12 technology partners for store analytics and insights, combining its capabilities to connect data and gain practical learnings that they can share with its customers and the retail community. We have also introduced the first self-driving grocery store, ‘Robomart’ which has taken the idea of grocery delivery to a new level. Just tap a button and the entire store comes to you so that you can shop checkout free for the freshest goods right at your doorstep. ‘Robomarts’ are fully electric road vehicles engineered with cutting-edge technology, including driverless tech for autonomy, tele-operations for safety, a check-out free system and a purpose-built refrigeration for cooling. This new autonomous retail solution uses AI and computer vision to detect products taken or returned to the shelves and keeps track of them in your virtual cart as customers can simply pick out what they fancy and walk out. Shoppers no longer have to wait in line at the till – they enter, take the product that they want and leave.
RoboPharmacy: Another service we are working on is called RoboPharmacy which is an unmanned, futuristic pharmacy system that helps hospitals and pharmacies to capture patient data to provide convenience to customers through virtual futuristic technologies. Another area is called SharpSurgeon, a VR spine surgery simulator which brings a new perspective to classical medical education methods. Augmented reality shows how medical education can be revolutionised and brings the human body to life in full 3D in front of you using AR functionality.
Education: Etisalat Digital is also working on the future of education to offer an immersive classroom experience in collaboration with CENTURY Tech, a cloud-based education platform. The experience combines AI, cognitive neuroscience theories of how the brain learns and big data showcased in a traditional classroom setting.
Etisalat is supporting Mobile 360 Series – MENA as Host Sponsor and will feature several speakers including Khalifa Hassan Al-Forah Al-Shamsi, Group Chief Corporate Strategy & Governance Officer, and Hatem Dowidar, CEO International.