World-first 5G SA roaming connection though BICS’ Service Hub promises operators scalability and opportunities to innovate
Advanced Info Service Public Company Limited (AIS), Thailand’s biggest mobile operator, announces Asia’s first ever 5G Standalone (SA) roaming connection to stc Kuwait, a world-class digital leader providing innovative services and platforms to customers, and enabling digital transformation in the Middle East. The achievement is the result of a partnership with international connectivity provider BICS, the first of its kind to offer a direct connection with AIS SEPP (Secure Edge Protection Proxy) and a full service 5G SA Service Hub to stc Kuwait.
The successful connection enabled AIS and stc Kuwait to deliver an international 5G roaming connection carrying data, texts, and calls using a 5G mobile core network. Until now, 5G connections in the region used non-standalone (NSA) 5G technology and were routed as 4G/LTE traffic in core networks. This meant previous connections did not offer network slicing and real-time-critical communication, or scalability, and therefore didn’t support 5G innovation use cases.
This is the latest in a string of 5G Standalone firsts from BICS. The company completed the first-ever connection of its kind in a lab environment back in 2021, and quickly followed it up with the first-ever global 5G SA roaming connection between the Middle East and Europe last year. This new first has allowed BICS to push 5G SA boundaries further, testing its new 5G Standalone Service Hub model; opening the doors for operators to innovate and scale their roaming agreements.
“As 5G gains momentum across Asia, AIS continues to push the technology forward with a breakthrough roaming connection for the region,” says Saran Phaloprakarn, Head of Mobile and Consumer Products Department at AIS. “For 5G to work for businesses and consumers, it needs to be scalable, and it needs to be secure. This successful roaming connection takes a huge step forward in both regards, and ushers in the next generation of 5G for our customers and the wider industry.”
Mohammed N. Al-Nusif, Chief Executive Officer of solutions by stc added:
“We are proud to yet again be part of a breakthrough moment that is another step in the right direction in establishing round-the-world 5G connectivity for our subscribers. stc believes in the benefits that Standalone 5G will bring, and through our partnership with BICS, we’re excited to be at the forefront, offering our customers opportunities for innovation.”
This latest successful roaming connection sees BICS offer more than the standard requirements, with an additional security layer on top of the SEPP protection established by operators. All traffic is sent from the operators’ SEPPs through BICS’ new 5G SA Service Hub. So, while the operators already have the security protection of the SEPP firewall, BICS adds data analytics, business intelligence, quality monitoring, and a powerful layer of fraud protection for the 5G roaming traffic exchanged between the operators around the world, meaning they can scale with ease.
“5G is the biggest overhaul of mobile technology in generations, offering a range of benefits to users and enterprises. But the real potential of 5G will only be realized through the global adoption of 5G Standalone,” says Mikaël Schachne, VP Telco at BICS. “At BICS we believe in the power of communications, which is why we are committed to building the foundations that will accelerate the rollout of 5G SA roaming around the world. The more we work together to cement these foundations and make 5G SA roaming a reality, the quicker operators like AIS and stc Kuwait, and enterprises and end-users alike, can unlock its potential.”
“This latest achievement brings global 5G SA even closer to reality, arming operators not only with the technical readiness, but an array of secure, quality assurance services to protect consumers and operators’ future revenues in the 5G era.”