Fifteen per cent of the UAE’s populated areas shall have 5G coverage from telecom operator du by the end of this year, a senior official said on Monday.
“It took the telecom industry seven years to shift from 2G to 3G, and five years from 3G to 4G. But it is yet to be seen how soon 5G will be a reality in terms of coverage for the full population, as well as for enterprises in the ecosystem,” said Saleem Alblooshi, chief technology officer at du.
The firm started the rollout in May this year.
“We expect that by 2023, 5G will supersede 4G. The plan is to cover the whole of UAE’s dense populated areas by 2023 with 5G,” he said while addressing the Gitex Technology Week conference at the Dubai World Trade Centre.
He said the company had tied up with the academe, regulators, and other partners to encourage the use of 5G.
Faster and more reliable, 5G – or the fifth-generation cellular network – opens up new possibilities for where and how people stay connected.
With all the upgrades and faster speed in data transfers, there has been a noticeable change in the behaviour of people, Alblooshi said.
“For example, now, people watching sports games tend to upload more data than download it in order to share their personal experiences of the games. Hence, the company had adjusted its download and upload speeds in dense areas such as stadiums and exhibitions,” he added.
For the other UAE telco, Etisalat, the 5G deployment is also in full swing.
In May 2019, it became the first operator in Mena to enable its customers to experience the power of the 5G network and release the first 5G handset. It was also the first to provide indoor 5G coverage in selected buildings in the country.
“Year 2019 so far has been a landmark year for 5G advancements, but this is only the beginning,” Saleh Abdullah Al Abdooli, chief executive officer of Etisalat Group, said in a previous report.
5G is just a tool
While 5G coverage can do wonders, the technology will not do the ‘transformation’ on its own – people will, industry executives pointed out.
“It is the people who are going to do the transformation. 5G will not show its own capability without IoT, cloud services, etc. Those entities that will execute 5G first will be the front-runners,” said Mohamed Madkour, vice-president for global wireless networks marketing and solutions at Huawei.
In a keynote speech at the conference, he stressed that 5G will not be characterised by ‘who is the fastest operator’ but the leadership will be decided by consistent deployment of new innovative services.
“Leadership for 5G will be identified by how far you go three years from now in harnessing the power of 5G. Companies are looking at 5G to improve efficiency of other industries but not looking at enhancing efficiency of 5G itself.
“5G is broad but it can also be a burden, so bringing the highest efficiency to 5G is a must,” Madkour said.
Globally, 296 operators have tested or deployed 5G while 36 operators have launched 5G and 33 countries issued 5G spectrum, he said, adding that just deployment of 5G doesn’t mean that people will have start using self-driving vehicles from the next day.
“It is a step-by-step growth,” he added.
Highlighting the benefits, Fadi Pharaon, president for Middle East and Africa at Ericsson, revealed that a lot of development with regard to 5G is taking place.
“5G will also allow people to play sports in a totally different way. Companies, as well as telcom services providers, are working jointly in this field.
“In healthcare, ambulances can be equipped with advanced technologies to review the condition of the patient. For example, a patient in an ambulance can put on an ultrasound glove while the doctor in the hospital can also put on a similar glove.
This will give real-time information about the health of the patient and help save his life,” he added.
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