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UAE's Etisalat to invest $1bn in digital transformation in 2019

Telco's chief technology officer says 'pioneering efforts' in 5G will pave way for the 'future of connectivity'

UAE-based telecoms giant Etisalat plans to invest AED4 billion ($1.09 billion) in digital transformation, mobile and fibre networks this year, according to a senior executive.

Hatem Bamatraf, chief technology officer, Etisalat International, said the company's "pioneering efforts" in 5G will pave the way for the "future of connectivity".

Bamatraf was speaking at 5G MENA 2019 in Dubai where he highlighted Etisalat’s investments and focus on enhancing and building one of the most advanced networks in the region.


“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 said.

Etisalat said earlier this month that its 5G network is ready, adding that the first 5G devices are likely to arrive in the UAE in June.

Bamatraf said Etisalat was the first operator to have a fully developed commercial 5G network available to provide gigabit internet services to its customers.

The network will fuel enterprises digital transformation, IoT, smart cities and the fourth industrial revolution, he noted.

He added that Etisalat’s network will also 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.

“Etisalat’s network and infrastructure will be ready to provide the service as soon as the 5G mobile handsets are available in UAE. We are aiming to build 1,000 5G towers across the UAE during 2019 to enable 5G coverage,” he added.

With majority of 5G deployments to be implemented by 2020 globally, industry estimates indicate a projection of 1.5 billion 5G subscriptions by the end of 2024.