In a world-first, international connectivity and 5G enabler BICS has successfully set up the first-ever intercontinental 5G Standalone (SA) roaming connection between two live networks in Europe and the Middle East.
First Non-lab Environment Connection:
The connection was the first to be completed in a non-lab environment and demonstrated successful roaming between Belgian mobile operator Proximus' 5G SA network and the Middle-East-based digital solutions and telecommunications provider stc Kuwait's 5G SA network. This successful completion marks a landmark moment for the readiness of international 5G SA services and use cases.
"Until now, operators around the world have only been delivering 5G Non-standalone (NSA) roaming that routes traffic through 4G/LTE core. This is the first time anyone has ever carried out a successful live connection across borders using 5G Standalone," said Mikael Schachne, VP of telco market at BICS.
"By establishing 5G SA roaming, we've broken down the barriers to bring the power of this technology to international communications. This is an important step for the industry and accelerates the benefits of 5G to potential consumers and enterprises around the world."
5G SA Roaming Connection Setup:
Connectivity between the visited and home network was set up via Secured gateways (SEPP) - a security protocol mandated by the GSMA and which can be hosted on BICS' internetwork packet exchange (IPX) network - for faster and more effective implementation and maintenance.
Geert Standaert, Chief Technology Officer at Proximus, the parent company of BICS, added: "The roaming test represents a huge watershed moment for Proximus in our 5G roll-out. Our goal is to bring next-generation experiences to our customers. 5G roaming plays a major role in delivering on that promise. We are excited to have reached this stage through our partnership with stc and BICS, and now look ahead to rolling out the opportunities of 5G Standalone for the benefits of our customers and enterprises alike."
"To have been a part of this breakthrough moment for 5G is something we are very proud of," added Fahad Al Ali, chief technology officer at stc Kuwait. stc's mission has long been to enable digital transformation, and in establishing this first-ever 5G Standalone roaming connection we are leading the way – not just for Kuwait, but for the world.
"While this breakthrough is significant for the industry as a whole, it is also great news for stc's customers. This new roaming connection with BICS and Proximus means it is now the first to offer 5G roaming spanning the widest coverage area across the world," adds Mohammed N. Al-Nusif, Chief Executive Officer of solutions by stc.