Bahrain has achieved full national 5G coverage, according to Bahrain’s Ministry of Transportation and Telecommunications, as two of three mobile operators have achieved full coverage for the Kingdom’s 1.5 million population.
The push for 5G adoption is increasing.
Bahrain’s tech sector investments
Bahrain’s telecoms sector attracted investments worth more than $2 billion between 2009 and 2019. Bahrain’s ICT sector now accounts for nearly 3% of the country’s GDP.
Engineer Kamal bin Ahmed Mohamed, Bahrain’s Minister of Transportation and Telecommunications said: “(his country is) ensuring availability and deployment of commercial 5G services and enhancing readiness for next-generation ICT services such as the Internet of Things and Machine-to-Machine communications.”
“Rapid access to information is essential to innovation, particularly for next-generation services. In this way, 5G is a crucial step in Bahrain’s ongoing transition from net consumer to a net producer of technological innovation.”
Researchers estimate that there will be more than 1 billion 5G connections by 2023.
The Kingdom has pursued a strategy of agile and flexible regulation to encourage innovation and investment in the telecoms sector. Bahrain places no restrictions on VoIP services.
GCC-wide adoption of 5G
Huawei, a global telecoms supplier and mobile phone manufacturer, made headlines throughout 2020 for its role in a growing global 5G movement.
Eleven telecom firms including those in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Oman have signed massive 5G contracts with Huawei over the last year.
By 2025, GCC countries will house much of the world’s growing 5G subscribers.
Analysts remain optimistic on the potential of 5G to positively impact multiple industries in the GCC, specifically energy usage optimization, cloud computing, ultrafast broadband, and internet of things (IoT) innovation, including self-driving cars, transportation, and factory equipment.
Recently, Nokia said that it is expanding its strategic 5G partnership with Zain KSA to include a rollout of 60,000 5G Gateway 3.1 with eSIM across Saudi Arabia over the next 12 months.
The gateways will deliver better connectivity and ultra-high data speeds to homes and offices across the country.
In June 2019, the two companies had announced a three-year deal to roll out 5G to thousands of sites using Nokia’s portfolio, introducing 5G using 2.6 GHz and 3.5 GHz along with massive multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO).
Fastest global 5G connections
In the 5G race, VPN Mentor collated information from SpeedTest field research that undertook 4.3 million tests in Q3 2020. The download test shows that the UAE and Saudi Arabia are the top two with network speeds of 959.39Mbps and 921.11Mbps respectively.
The original vpnmentor report is here.
Bahrain placed ninth, and Kuwait eleventh.
Speeds won’t be relevant for most users without regional coverage though.
Saudi has only 69 regional nodes, of which 18 are within Mecca and the capital Riyadh. Most of the country isn’t covered and has to settle for 4G networks.
In the rest of the GCC, the UAE has 19, Kuwait 154, Bahrain 49, Oman 53 and Qatar has 26 regional nodes.