In a world-first breakthrough, 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.
The connection was the first of its kind 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. It marks a landmark moment for the readiness of international 5G SA services and use cases.
Mikaël Schachne, VP Telco Market at BICS, commented: “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. 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.”
Connectivity between the visited and home network was set up via secured gateways (SEPP) – a next-level security protocol mandated by roaming regulators GSMA, and which can be hosted on BICS’ IPX network – for faster and more efficient implementation and management.
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.”
Eng. Fahad Al Ali, Chief Technology Officer at stc Kuwait, commented, “To have been a part of this breakthrough moment for 5G is something we are very proud of. 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. stc believes Standalone 5G will bring untold benefits that will enrich the lifestyles of both individual and corporate customers by accelerating innovation across borders through pioneering roaming solutions.”
Mohammed N. Al-Nusif, Chief Executive Officer of solutions by stc, said, “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. It’s going to bring stc customers exceptional connectivity at high-data speeds and offer them the same 4G and 5G data plans at no additional costs when abroad.”
This success is the latest in a string of firsts for BICS as it continues to lead the way in 5G adoption. Last year it announced the first successful 5G lab trial, as well as borderless 5G connectivity to its IoT SIM card solution. As mobile network operators face the challenge of complex 5G roaming agreements and technologies, BICS is simplifying their path to 5G connectivity allowing them to benefit from one connection, one invoice and full managed service modules to reduce overhead on existing teams