Etisalat is the first in the UAE to market a 5G device, as the race to access the next generation wireless network reaches a new stage.
Etisalat is selling the 5G-enabled ZTE Axon 10 Pro, with no extra cost to access the new network for post-paid and pre-paid customers. All customers will be able to use existing data packs on the 5G network, according to the UAE telco.
At around 20 times faster than 4G, the new 5G network will enable real time video streaming, better gaming experiences and augmented reality on devices.
Competition to stay ahead in the 5G race is stiff. Earlier this month, Etisalat’s local competitor Du conducted its first-ever data call over the 5G network to show its preparedness to launch the service. It was followed by Zain Saudi Arabia, the Saudi unit of Kuwait-based telecoms operator Zain Group, which also successfully completed a 5G data call and announced this week its 5G network infrastructure is complete in Kuwait.
American telcos Verizon and AT&T are already offering 5G services in US cities such as Chicago, Atlanta, Houston and Minneapolis.
According to US researcher Gartner, two-thirds of companies globally plan to install 5G by 2020.
Telecommunications operators in the UAE stand to gain an additional $3.3 billion (Dh12.1bn) in revenues by 2026 from the digitalisation of industries through 5G, according to a report from Swedish technology company Ericsson last year.
Etisalat is constructing more than 1,000 5G towers in the UAE, providing the infrastructure and network to support all 5G devices launched by global mobile device manufacturers like ZTE, Huawei, Ericsson, Nokia and Samsung. It plans to spend Dh4 billion on digital transformation and improving the mobile and fibre network this year.
Regional telcos are expediting their 5G efforts, but poor network coverage, especially in remote areas, may be an issue as the technology remains in its nascent stage. The new network also comes at an added cost for now - at least Dh1,000 more than any other top premium phone.
Etisalat customers can purchase ZTE Axon 10 Pro from Marina Mall in Abu Dhabi and Dubai Mall in Dubai. This device costs more than Dh5,555 and customers can opt for flexible plans for a 12-, 18- or 24-month contract starting from only Dh241.