Complex Made Simple

Making the case for 5G in region: Which country’s taking the lead?

Did you know that on a 5G network, you can download the latest season of your favorite show in HD in the time it takes to board a plane?

When it comes to the next generation of mobile network technology, some telecom executives have become 5G pessimists, having lost their faith in the power of technology to deliver more.

A survey of recent public statements by executives of the 20 largest mobile network operators (MNOs) worldwide shows that while mobile network executives share a belief in the long-term potential of 5G, more than half, 53% see no near-term business case for the technology.

A New Bain & Company report, Why the 5G Pessimists Are Wrong, dismisses myths about 5G technology adoption, and there are signs adoption is forthcoming in the GCC.

Read: Consumer 5G needs to create tangible network experiences

Gaining a competitive edge

Network operators that do not move quickly enough on 5G run the risk of being left behind on a technology that has the power to dramatically increase network speed and capacity and give early adopters a competitive edge.

Gregory Garnier, Partner, Bain & Company Middle East, said: “The demand for mobile data transmissions has been growing by 40%  per year globally, prompting operators to regularly create new cells. 5G is a hot topic for operators in the GCC as both a way to keep leading and innovating in the digital space and in some markets as a powerful mean to disrupt fixed and fiber access.”

Expert: What’s the link between programmable infrastructure and 5G?

Misconceptions answered

Bain & Company believes misconceptions and flawed thinking have influenced the industry. Three common analytical fallacies have emerged:

1-There is no compelling, near-term business case for 5G.  The industry should invest in 5G now even when technologies like AR/VRm or autonomous driving that will require it are still years away from being ready because 5G brings improvement to existing use cases.

2-Implementing 5G will require enormous, and unjustifiable, capital investments. According to one forecast, a major European integrated operator adopting 5G would need to increase its capex-to-revenue ratio from 13% to 22%. Bain & Company sees that 5G capable devices will seamlessly connect to 4G cells and there is sufficient node density to accommodate 5G using 3.5GHz and even millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum.

 3-The main reason to invest in 5G is to reduce costs. True, with a combination of 5G and digital transformations, network operators would be able to slash their capex-to-revenue ratio from about 15% to less than 10% within five years. But it’s not a primary reason.

Read: 5G Networks Have a Paramount Role in Autonomous Vehicle Connectivity

GCC/ME 5G projects

Etisalat Misr and Ericsson Launch Egypt’s First Voice Over LTE (VoLTE) Service 

Voice over Long-Term Evolution (VoLTE) is a standard for high-speed wireless communication for mobile phones and data terminals – including IoT devices and wearables. It is based on the IP Multimedia Subsystem network.

VoLTE calls, powered by Ericsson, connect in less than two seconds compared to ten seconds over legacy technologies and deliver a more true-to-life sound with reduced background noise.

Etisalat Misr is the first telecommunications company in Egypt to launch VoLTE.

Globally, the number of VoLTE subscriptions is projected to reach 5.4 billion by the end of 2023, accounting for around 80% of combined LTE and 5G subscriptions, according to the latest Ericsson Mobility Report.

Read: How a robust Wi-Fi helps boost digital engagement, revenues


Operators in the UAE who leverage 5G-IoT use cases to tap the full business potential of industry digitalization can benefit from revenues of $3.3 billion in 2026, according to a new Ericsson report.

Ericsson lists 10 industries that will drive growth in addressable revenues from digitalization. These include agriculture, manufacturing, energy and utilities, public safety, healthcare, public transport, media and entertainment, automotive, financial services and retail. Globally, this growth will equate to an anticipated $619 billion revenue opportunity by 2026.

Rafiah Ibrahim, Head of Ericsson Middle East and Africa, says: “Digital transformation is taking place in almost every industry, disrupting and creating new business models. 5G is an enabler of this transformation.  In the Middle East and Africa region, we have already implemented an expanded platform to deliver more efficient network performance and improved network capabilities.  This is enabling service providers to capture opportunities from the digitization of industries and from emerging use cases while addressing the explosive traffic growth expected in the 5G evolution.”

Read: 5 Wi-Fi Mistakes in The Connected Classroom

5G Saudi

Al-Khobar, in Saudi’s Eastern Province, became the first city in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region to benefit from a pilot project on 5G network, according to a press statement issued by the Center of International Communication, and reported by the Saudi Gazette.

The project was implemented in the first week of Ramadan, this year.
Saudi Arabia’s national ICT regulator, Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC), issued licenses for testing the 5G mobile network using 100 MHz channels in the bandwidth of 3.6Ghz–3.8GHz.

The statement highlighted the project surpassed the limits of previous wireless technologies with a data-transmission speed of more than 1Gbps.

The CITC plans to convert the test-and-trial licenses to full and exclusive 5G spectrum awards in 3.4-3.8 GHz by mid-2019. The awards of mm-wave spectrum could follow by the beginning of 2020.

Read: Can Saudi’s new seaside Amaala project be a match for Côte d’Azur?

Saudi and Nokia

Saudi Telecom Company (STC) said last March it is working with Nokia to launch a 5G network in 2018 within Saudi. The STC-Nokia agreement promises to deploy “hundreds” of 5G base stations within Western Saudi Arabia and to jointly develop both network and commercialization strategies this year, according to Venture Beat.

5G wireless technology will leverage new radio spectrum and technologies to deliver ultra-fast, responsive, and reliable data services.

5G is planned for use in everything from mobile devices to autonomous cars, smart cities, critical infrastructure, and remote health care.

Read: Saudi’s entertainment sector takes a front-row seat with new visa

5G Qatar

Ooredoo recently showcased the true power and speed of Ooredoo 5G with a self-driving 5G connected Aerial Taxi, 5G Experience Bus, and a 5G House Boat.

The highlight of the event was the worlds-first Self-Driving 5G connected Aerial Taxi, a large drone-like vehicle big enough to transport two people to a destination up to 20 minutes away with a 130 Km/h speed. The taxi is automatic and runs on Ooredoo’s 5G network, meaning there is no driver and can deliver passengers safely to their destination above traffic and other time-consuming obstacles.