5G in the Middle East

Among the first globally to introduce 5G, how is the GCC's rollout going? How did they got there first and what economic benefits will this bring to the region?

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Oil-rich gulf states have been among the first nations in the world to launch fully-functional 5G networks. With huge government support, operators in the region have rolled out the technical infrastructure and have started offering consumers 5G mobile data packages.

Gulf markets Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman, known collectively as the Gulf Co-operation Council countries, have beaten the rest of the world to 5G, launching services through ten operators. 

Matthew Reed, telecoms analyst at Omdia, says GCC markets are well placed for successful take up of 5G: “The GCC markets are quite advanced by global standards in the telecoms sector and previous versions of mobile broadband have had good take up. They are relatively affluent markets, there is a good rate at which people upgrade to the latest smartphones and devices, there are good disposable incomes and demand for broadband mobile is high.” 

Next generation technology crucial to oil and gas

These states see 5G as crucial to their economic development as fossil fuels are replaced by renewable energy and their huge oil and gas incomes dwindle. Gulf nations are looking to re-invent themselves as hi-tech economies at the forefront of automation, Internet of Things development, smart city innovation and autonomous vehicles. Forging ahead with 5G will help give them a head start over other economies, they believe, and strong consumer take up of the new generation services is vital for boosting mobile video, entertainment and virtual and augmented reality services.

Saudi Arabia has put in place its Vision 2030 economic strategy with a view to boosting the technology sector and is planning to use 5G to support 45 million internet of things devices, creating a market worth $12bn, according to Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology.

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