Etisalat Steps into Virtual Telecom, Brings in New Mobile Core System

By Steve Anderson July 21, 2016

Etisalat has been having a pretty good run of things lately. Not only has it recently brought out a complete telco cloud based around network functions virtualization (NFV), but it's also just brought out its first virtual telecom system. Calling on Affirmed Networks' virtualized Evolved Packet Core (vEPC) systems, Etisalat has recently made its first mobile core system built with the cloud in mind.

Technological developments have always been at the heart of Etisalat, which recently made live LTE data and voice calls via its cloud platform back in April. Its new vEPC—part of a larger program known as Sahaab, or “cloud” in Arabic, that moves more of the company's network operations to the cloud—is poised to be a large part of several other initiatives to follow, including connected car services, machine-to-machine (M2M) functions, and, once the vEPCs have been deployed in sufficient numbers, Internet of Things (IoT) operations, Wi-Fi calling and even some initiatives geared toward a “smart city” development.

Etisalat's Sahaab program is part of a larger effort in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) known as “Vision 2021,” a program that calls on organizations to bolster the UAE's digital economy by providing the appropriate groundwork for such programs. According to Etisalat’s senior vice president of network development, Esmaeel Alhammadi,—who also serves as the Sahaab program lead—Sahaab and similar efforts give Etisalat a leadership role in innovation in the region.

Meanwhile, Affirmed Networks' vice president of global operations Mohmmed Shanableh commented, “Etisalat is focused on doing whatever it takes to ensure they are delivering the best coverage, capacity and services to their customers across the region. By embracing a virtualized LTE solution, Etisalat is putting in place a network that is capable of handling the ever-changing expectations of consumers-both today and in the future where increased connectivity to devices, applications and services will place new demands on operator networks. This evolution represents yet another example of why Etisalat maintains such a stellar reputation as an innovative provider of Communications Services, not just in the Middle East, but across the globe.”

The technologies of tomorrow require a base to run on, and whether it's IoT, M2M, smart city efforts or anything like that, it's going to require a robust network that can handle the traffic. While some believe that 5G access will more than take care of these bandwidth demands, others project that simply waiting the three years until its first commercial deployment may not be an option. For Etisalat, it doesn't seem to be, and it's already taking steps to get the new systems into place.

Improvements made by Etisalat today will likely be felt for some time to come, and this is where the future begins for the UAE. These improvements may be just what's needed to bring out the best in the region, and will lay the start of further improvements for years to come. 

Edited by Alicia Young

Contributing Writer

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