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The Middle East gets ready for 5G

04/04/2018
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With the successful completion of the first implementable Release 15 5G New Radio (NR) specifications (published in December 2017 at the 3GPP TSG RAN Plenary Meeting in Lisbon, Portugal) 5G will soon be heading to the Middle East.

But what does this mean in practice? Let’s take a look at what telecoms operators and regulatory bodies are doing to make 5G a reality across the region.
The UAE is making rapid progress in the development of 5G.
United Arab Emirates (UAE)

The UAE is making rapid progress in the development of 5G. In December 2017, the country’s largest telecoms provider Etisalat announced the pre-commercial launch of 5G ultra mobile broadband in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The country’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has also given permission for local mobile operators to start deploying 5G networks in phases across the UAE throughout this year. The regulatory authority said that 5G deployments will allow UAE to enter the era of ‘the Fourth Industrial Revolution, with technologies such as artificial intelligence, smart cities and the internet of things (IoT)’.

Other operators such as state-owned du are working to bring 5G to UAE. du is actively working with Nokia to trial 3GPP standardised 5G New Radio non-stand-alone technology, with an eye to subsequently deploying live 5G sites in selected areas across UAE. The trial aims to achieve 5Gpbs throughput, enabling extreme broadband for industrial applications.
Saudi Arabia has partnered with several telecoms operators to roll out a country-wide 5G network.
Saudi Arabia

Huawei has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Saudi telecom provider Saudi Telecom Company (STC) to collaborate on 5G innovation. The agreement commits the two companies to advancing joint innovations, leveraging 5G technologies and cultivating 5G services. Most significantly, the agreement will see the companies launching a 5G network across Saudi Arabia in 2018. 

Related to this, STC has also agreed to collaborate with Nokia to help develop the most optimal network strategy for the Saudi market. As part of this, hundreds of 5G base stations are being deployed across the Kingdom (at Makkah, Madinah and Yanbu). 

STC is also working with Ericsson on expanding LTE-Advanced and Internet of Things technologies within Saudi Arabia, as 4G/LTE networks form the backbone for 5G services.
Kuwaiti telecom company Zain Group has successfully tested 5G.
Kuwait

Back in April 2017, VIVA (a subsidiary of STC), successfully tested 5G and was able to achieve nearly 35Gbps. Fast forward and Kuwaiti telecom company Zain Group has successfully tested 5G achieving speeds of over 70Gbps over 2CHz spectrum. 

Commenting on these tests and the ongoing development of 5G in Kuwait, Eaman Al Roudhan, CEO of Zain Kuwait, said:

“As the leading operator in Kuwait, it is our intention to continue fulfilling the ever-increasing demand for quality high-speed services and offer 5G technology to our customers as soon as it becomes technically available. In doing so, we will be in a prime position to offer unique products and services, including many smart city and IoT initiatives. Essentially, our vision with 5G technology is to create a smarter and more productive future for our individual and enterprise customers, where both devices and people are connected to each other.”

Zain Group has also recently agreed to collaborate with Ericsson to jointly develop 5G use cases.
In Qatar, telecoms operator Ooredoo has teamed up with Nokia to help deploy 5G across the Middle East.
Qatar

In Qatar, telecoms operator Ooredoo has teamed up with Nokia to help deploy 5G across the Middle East. In a statement, Ooredoo said that: “5G will catalyse mobility, industrial networking, remote healthcare, virtual reality and ultra-high-definition video, as well as enhance our customers’ digital experience and help them enjoy the internet in new and exciting ways.” 

Commenting on the company’s partnership with Nokia, the Chief Executive of Ooredoo Qatar said:

“Ooredoo is leveraging Nokia’s commercially-available 5G-ready products, such as the Airscale radio platform and 5G Adaptive Antenna System based on 3GPP Rel. Nokia’s advanced telecommunications technologies and professional services will also transform Ooredoo’s existing 2G, 3G, 4G LTE-A, 4.5G Pro and 4.9G networks to ensure best-in-class service delivery.”
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The Middle East gets ready for 5G - Time to read 4 min
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