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The Road to 5G

Visitors to today’s show will not be able to escape 5G. The fifth generation network has the potential to transform business and society

Gitex, Gitex Technology Week

In essence the development of communication technologies has entered a new stage of ‘hyperconnectiveness’, a development period that has fast been gaining traction since 2015. “5G will introduce the UAE to a world of new things – the first use case being an enhanced mobile broadband offering, better experience for smartphone users and fixed wireless access,” Saleem AlBlooshi, chief technology officer (CTO), EITC explained. “Consumers will get a more stable, more secure connection – along with services and experiences. At the heart of this all, a 5G rollout will satisfy consumers’
ever increasing, collective need for speed.” Du has been working on its 5G network.

According to Saleem AlBlooshi, the telco has significantly increased investment to improve coverage, reliability and speed across nationwide networks to launch 5G. Du believes that for first movers, 5G unlocks the possibility of ‘reshaping the market place’, with increased market share and better customer experience. To unlock the power of 5G, Du needed to rethink the consumers role, what value to deliver, and what business models to use, added AlBlooshi. 5G is expected to dominate much of GITEX Technology Week, with a huge presence from regional operators and vendors, as well as a dedicated 5G conference track.

“10 million 5G subscriptions are projected worldwide by the end of 2019.”

THE UAE HAS come a long way in its journey to become one of the smartest cities in the Middle East. Another notable milestone in 2019 has been the development of its fifth-generation cellular network or as it is better known - 5G. The race for the consumer adoption of 5G is poised to start and while it is still too early to declare any winners it is clear that all regional telecoms operators are putting 5G at the top of the business agenda. All three telecom operators in the UAE, Etisalat, Virgin Mobile and Du are taking different approaches to how they push 5G to consumers. 5G enabled phones have also started to arrive in the region. Devices are being delivered by Samsung, OPPO, ZTE and Huawei.

The UAE has always made a virtue of its tech infrastructure investment and 5G is no different. With Expo 2020 a little under 12 months away, 5G network coverage and a host of application services are a priority. Adoption of emerging technologies like the internet of things (IoT), augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), artificial intelligence (AI), intelligent robotics and machine learning will be vastly accelerated by the advent of widespread 5G network coverage. In turn, it will have a positive impact on both government and private sectors, as 5G enables a broad range of business and societal changes.

In essence the development of communication technologies has entered a new stage of ‘hyperconnectiveness’, a development period that has fast been gaining traction since 2015. “5G will introduce the UAE to a world of new things – the first use case being an enhanced mobile broadband offering, better experience for smartphone users and fixed wireless access,” Saleem AlBlooshi, chief technology officer (CTO), EITC explained. “Consumers will get a more stable, more secure connection – along with services and experiences. At the heart of this all, a 5G rollout will satisfy consumers’ ever increasing, collective need for speed.” Du has been working on its 5G network.

According to Saleem AlBlooshi, the telco has significantly increased investment to improve coverage, reliability and speed across nationwide networks to launch 5G. Du believes that for first movers, 5G unlocks the possibility of ‘reshaping the market place’, with increased market share and better customer experience. To unlock the power of 5G, Du needed to rethink the consumers role, what value to deliver, and what business models to use, added AlBlooshi. 5G is expected to dominate much of GITEX Technology Week, with a huge presence from regional operators and vendors, as well as a dedicated 5G conference track. The biggest names of 5G have already made their presence felt with the likes of China Mobile, Cisco, Nokia, Ericsson, Huawei, Korea Telecom, Etisalat, Du and STC among key players attending GITEX. According to Gartner, 2020 will see 5G network infrastructure revenue reach US$4.2 billion, an increase of 89% from 2019. The actual investment in 5G network infrastructure will represent 6% of total communications service providers wireless infrastructure revenue in 2019, and will rise to 11.6% in 2020.

The UAE is ahead of the curve in terms of designing and implementing limited commercial 5G services. Earlier this year, Etisalat became the first telco in the Middle East to offer 5G ZTE Axon 10 Pro devices. Hotspots in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi became available where users can get network speeds of up to 1Gbps - that’s 20 times faster than conventional 4G. Essentially this means consumers can stream a 4K video effortlessly. More phone vendors are also entering the fray, OPPO announced that it will be the first vendor in the world to launch a 5G smartphone using the Qualcomm 5G chip that’s due to release this quarter. Samsung’s Note 10 has a 5G variant and all Samsung Fold models are 5G by default. More recently, Huawei announced its availability, initially exclusive to Etisalat, (but available at Du later in the year) of its Huawei Mate 20 X 5G device and its newest flagship, the Mate 30 pro.

For consumers, there are plenty of options, but the question could be asked what’s the compelling need? Do we really consume content that requires the use of 5G? In the short term, how big an impact will it have as it’s new and currently not within reach of consumers?

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