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stc Kuwait and BICS execute world's first live 5G SA roaming connection   

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BICS has completed the world's first intercontinental 5G Standalone (SA) roaming connection between two live networks in Europe and the Middle East in collaboration with stc Kuwait.

“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 Mikaël 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.”

The connection was carried out in a live environment and demonstrated successful roaming between Proximus’ (BICS' parent company) 5G SA network and stc Kuwait’s 5G SA network.

“The roaming test represents a huge watershed moment for Proximus in our 5G roll-out," said Geert Standaert, chief technology officer at Proximus.

"Our goal is to bring next-generation experiences to our customers. 5G roaming plays a major role in delivering on that promise."

Connectivity between the two networks 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 delivering faster and more efficient implementation and management.

“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.

In related news, last year BICS announced the first successful 5G lab trial, as well as borderless 5G connectivity to its IoT SIM card solution.

“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.