Industry Thought Leadership

stc Leads MENA Region in Launching Innovative End-to-end Commercial 5G SA Infrastructure

May, 2021
Fahad Al Ali
Chief Technology Officer

stc Kuwait

Deployment of the widest scale of 5G coverage on sub-3GHz besides implementing advanced Business Support System

Kuwait Telecommunications Company – stc, a world-class digital leader providing innovative services and platforms to customers, enabling the digital transformation in Kuwait, announced the successful commercialization step of implementing 5G Stand Alone (5G SA). The milestone is considered to be the second and most disruptive development of the comprehensive 3GPP 5th generation compliant network. stc also successfully accomplished the widest scale of 5G deployment coverage on Sub-3GHz and 2.1GHz amongst other mobile service providers in the MENA region. Besides these two achievements, the Company enhanced its infrastructure with the deployment of the most advanced automated Business Support System.

In a statement released by the Company, stc indicated that it has been progressing with major 5G SA developments to advance its 5G network architecture, enabling the radical transformation of the telecom industry into an as-a-Service model in line with Kuwait’s 2035 vision. 5G SA technology will enable stc’s subscribers to enjoy higher uplink bandwidth, especially catering to specialized use scenarios, such as enterprise applications where uplink throughput is equally important as downlink. Additionally, the technology will lower user-traffic latency to address key issues related to interruptions in gaming experience, while kicking off market interest in new rich forms of gaming technology like Virtual Reality (VR). 5G SA will also feature higher levels of security that utilize the best industry know-how to provide robustness to telecom networks.

Further empowering Multi-Access Edge Computing (MEC) deployment, 5G SA will enable stc to become not only Cloud Native, but Edge Native as well. This transition will allow service aggregation near subscriber premises. From massive data processing in enterprise campus scenarios, real-time data processing in industrial control, and autonomous driving, to massive IoT use cases requiring analytics localization and better user experience for AR/VR/cloud. 5G SA enables different verticals to gain advantage from stc’s infrastructure by creating end-to-end isolated logical networks that share resources in a secured, isolated, and efficient way, also known as Network Slicing. This allows public and private corporations increase their levels of efficiency and increase revenue when building their private networks, without the hassle of investing in new infrastructure, acquiring new spectrums, developing coverage, and getting capital assets. stc will also be able to offer diversified digital services to verticals, such as guaranteed voice over 5G applications (VoNR), dedicated data access, dedicated internet access, as well as, on-demand services such as, cloud CCTV capabilities to empower enhanced smart city services to citizens, and assist businesses in innovating and generating new revenue streams in untapped markets.

Focusing on the user experience and enhanced 5G coverage, especially indoors and in weak coverage spots, stc started delivering Sub-3GHz 2.1GHz 5G NR with national wide implementation since mid-2020. The Company foresaw the fundamental need of deploying national Sub-3GHz 5G NR over the 2.1GHz band. Upon doing so, stc became the first telecom operator to commercially launch such an advanced technology on a large scale in the MENA Region. Currently, 2.1GHz 5G NR sites have been strategically installed in dense districts. To further boost its infrastructure coverage, stc plans to deploy more sites in 2021. The new deployment will play an important role for a number of years to come, providing enhanced Quality of Experience (QoE) for multiple 5G use cases, such as HD voice, 4K video streaming, online gaming, telemedicine and collaborative applications. The services are offered over the most popular 2.1 GHz 5G NR supported smartphones and other 5G devices including Apple, Samsung, and Huawei devices. This will enable smoother access to 5G Carrier Aggregation (CA) Services and mass deployment for Internet of Thing (IoT) and Machine-to-Machine (M2M) over stc’s 5G infrastructure offering enhanced smart city services to users, while assisting businesses in launching new-to-market solutions.

stc has been systematically working on monetizing its 5G infrastructure with advanced Business Support Systems toward native cloud Network architecture. The systems aim to introduce innovative Network-as-a-Service models capable of integrating 3rd party APIs and utilizing DevOps Tools to suit wide-ranges of industry transformations. Vertical owners will be able to save their top and/or bottom lines by quickly transforming their businesses through differentiated scalable capacities and characteristics, with different charging criteria of services in line with their digital transformation and business model demands.

Engineer Fahad Abdulrahman Al Ali, Chief Technology Officer at stc, said, “stc positions itself to provide state-of-the-art 5G intelligent connectivity and agile 5G SA cloud native infrastructure to ensure mapping of business and government transformations. We offer enhanced coverage services through Sub-3GHz 2.1GHz 5G NR which add 4G/5G collaborations, 5G Carrier Aggregation and precise indoor/outdoor inter-operability to our 5G network. We aim to provide the best service experience for 5G consumers, such as iPhone 12 5G users, by providing improved 5G indoor service accessibility, higher quality video streaming, uninterrupted gaming experience, and battery power saving solutions.

Al Ali added, “stc strides to accelerate vertical transformation by constructing advanced Business Support Systems tolerated to fulfil a wide-range of industry transformations and business model requirements. This stems from our commitment to fulfill the needs of startups, SMEs and larger enterprises by offering flexible, automated, scalable, guaranteed, and reliable service solutions that can accelerate their digital strategies into the 5G platform allowing the introduction of new solutions and business processes.’’

The Company’s strategic plans tie in new opportunities by utilizing new generation 5G infrastructure with rich multidimensional designs and a native cloud architecture to offer enterprises with guaranteed Service Level Agreements (SLAs). After the large-scale deployment of Sub-3GHz 5G, stc projects high levels of improved in-depth coverage and user experience of stc's 5G network, laying a solid foundation for the sound development of 5G MBB services. Supporting the business growth of enterprise customers comes as a key contribution from stc to the transformation of businesses in line with Kuwait’s 2035 Vision.