What will define the future of 5G in MENA?

Telecoms.com periodically invites expert third parties to share their views on the industry’s most pressing issues. In this piece Francesca Greane, Marketing, Content and Community Lead for 5G MENA 2020, discusses the evolving 5G ecosystem in the MENA region.

According to a recent report by Ovum, some of the key trends that can be expected in the MENA region in 2020 and beyond are largely driven by the diversity in the region. Indeed, whilst several Gulf states are among the first in the world to launch commercial 5G services, elsewhere in the region there are still a significant number of people with little or even no access to basic communications services.

In a region with such disparity, the question around the future of 5G in MENA is one that doesn’t have a simple answer. Indeed, whilst increased investment in 5G wireless network will be a “priority” for global telecoms operators in 2020, the true direction of the region remains, as of yet, undefined.

We’ve already seen Etisalat, the UAE’s biggest telecoms operator, become the first service provider in the region to offer a 5G network, supporting smartphones for commercial use, in May. This move was soon followed by the country’s second telecoms operator Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company, or du as it is commonly known, and Bahrain’s Batelco.

Commenting on progress in the region Chafic Traboulsi, Head of Networks for Middle East and Africa at Ericsson noted that “In the Middle East and North Africa (Mena), commercial 5G deployments with leading service providers have taken place in 2019… and more deployments are expected in 2020 and beyond. As a result, by the end of 2025, we expect 90 million 5G subscriptions in Mena, representing around 10 per cent of total mobile subscriptions.”

However, according to Matthew Kendall, Chief Telecoms analyst at The Economist Intelligence Unit, “5G roll-out is dependent on the timely release of spectrum and no small amount of hard cash”. Given the existing “low margins and cost pressures” experienced by many operators – some of whom continue to focus on boosting 4G speeds, availability and geographic coverage – take-up of 5G is likely to be slow next year, Mr Kendall explained.

So, what is the future of 5G in MENA?

In collaboration with 5G MENA 2020, Ovum are looking to help service providers answer their business-defining questions by conducting their annual 5G MENA Market 2020 Survey, which delves into critical topics including:

  • The Reality of 5G Deployment
  • The Business Case for 5G Deployment in MENA
  • The Commercial Opportunities for 5G in MENA
  • The Regional and Global Opportunities for 5G
  • The Revenue Opportunities for 5G in MENA

You can have your say on the key trends, opportunities and challenges for 5G in MENA by taking ten minutes to answer the survey now. To say thank you, all respondents will receive a free copy of Ovum’s 5G MENA Markers Report, which will provide insight into the emerging 5G ecosystem in MENA that operators and solution providers need to stay ahead of the curve. You can complete the survey by clicking HERE.


Join the destination for 5G game-changers by claiming your FREE pass to 5G MENA 2020 (29-31 March, Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Dubai) now.

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