The Road to 5G

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

The implementation of 5G will transform industries and accelerate the adoption of technologies like Al, loT, VR and AR.

Fida Kibbi, Ericsson MEA

5G to loT, connected vehicles and industry 4.0 are all happening now, said Fida Kibbi, Ericsson MEA.

“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 countries in the Middle East, if not the world. Another notable milestone in 2019 has been the development of its fifth-generation cellular network or as itis better known – 5G.

The race for the consumer adoption of 5G is poised to start and while it 1s 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 from Samsung, OPPO, ZTE and Huawei have all started to arrive in malls across the region.

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 ‘hyper-connectiveness’, 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 its nationwide network 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, gdded AIBlooshi.

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 in 5G have already made their presence felt with the likes of China Mobile, Cisco, Nokia, Ericsson, 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 5G2 In the short term, how big an impact will it have as it’s new and currently not within reach of consumers?

Jeroen Schlosser, managing director, Equinix MENA is convinced there is areal desire for 5G and it will have a significant consumer impact.

He observes that mobile phone usage in the UAE has increased to 230 phones per 100 people in the first quarter of 2018, according to TRA. The rollout of 5G is expected to boost these numbers further as 5G is one of the most anticipated technological launches in the region.

In real world terms, 5G’s extremely fast bandwidth (100 Mbps), ultra-low latency (as low as 1 millisecond) makes mission-critical control possible, opening the door for applications that demand absolute reliability, across industries such as healthcare, energy or transportation.

Currently, professionals in those industries use 4G to access tests and records, such as X-rays, for example.

With the arrival of 5G, physicians will theoretically be able to remotely monitor patients and collect real time data using IoT devices, improving personalised and preventive care.

Combined with artificial intelligence and big data, patient data can now be collected and analysed rapidly, providing potentially life saving decision support.

Theoretically, it will even be possible to perform remote medical procedures, thanks to the rapid data transfer speed. The first successful remote surgery has already been performed in China using 5G technology.

Faster, lower-latency 5G network infrastructures will also be a huge boost to production and manufacturing based-industries.

However, service providers and enterprises will need to look at distributed IT and network infrastructures that place 5G at the digital edge — close to commerce, population centres and digital ecosystems of network and cloud service providers.

There’s more to 5G than just phones with fast internet speeds. The implementation of 5G will undoubtedly transform industries. It will provide an almost endless range of potential applications, leading to the evolution of smart technologies that are key to enabling autonomous transportation, smart buildings and other smart city infrastructure.

Retail will be one of the first industries to deploy 5G, said Jeroen Schlosser, managing director, Equinix MENA.

“‘The roll out of 5G is definitely one of the most anticipated technological launches in the region.”

“We believe retail and industrial will be the first industries to take advantage of IoT, a key consequence of 5G,” said Schlosser.

“Retail, with increasing mobile wireless products, such as smartphones, wearables and home assistants, and the supply chain logistics that bring them to market, is leveraging IoT to gain valuable customer insights, introduce products and ensure customer satisfaction. We think healthcare and financial services are up next, once these industries can ensure the needed levels of privacy and security,” he added.

The proliferation of business services (and opportunities) has local operators very excited.

GITEX Technology Week will no doubt showcase any number of 5G business use cases.

Etisalat, consistently one of the biggest presences at GITEX, will be at the forefront of this movement. Since inking a deal with Huawei earlier this year, it has been busy building a nationwide 5G infrastructure.

Etisalat has been evangelising 5G, most recently with Ericsson on the vendor’s 5G Experience Bus. The bus can also be seen at the show today.

“From 5G to IoT, to connected vehicles and Industry 4.0 – it’s all happening now. During the second quarter of 2019, several markets switched on 5G and leading service providers aim to reach up to 90% population coverage within the first year,” said Fida Kibbi, VP & head of marketing & communications, Ericsson Middle Kast and Africa.

“10 million 5G subscriptions are projected worldwide by the end of 2019 as 5G devices become available and more service providers launch 5G,” she added.

Etisalat already has a number of 5G use case projects in operation around the UAE. It is the first telco in the region to enable indoor 5G coverage at Abu Dhabi Airport and then it installed 5G network around the Burj Khalifa.

Dubai Expo 2020 is Etisalat’s first major commercial customer to get 5G coverage in MEA region.

“Etisalat has set a benchmark with the launch of the first commercial wireless network in MENA,” said Saeed Zarouni, senior vice president, mobile network, Etisalat. “The 5G roadshow with Ericsson is in line with the UAE leadership’s vision… This is an opportunity to experience the potential of 5G and new generation technologies,” he added.

So, should you as a consumer invest in 5G? It’s no longer a question of if but rather when.

Source: GITEX Times 2019 Magazine