5G digital boom to generate $28bn in GCC revenues by 2023

5G networks are expected to come online in the GCC region by 2020
Etisalat broke world records for 5G internet speeds with a live trial at Gitex 2017
By Shoshana Kedem
Tue 26 Dec 2017 09:47 AM

A 5G enabled digital boom in industries across the GCC is expected to generate around $28 billion in revenues by 2023, a new report has found.

According to Ericsson’s November 2017 Mobility Report, the fifth generation of high-speed internet - 5G - will provide a platform for automated systems such as production line robots, automated machinery for agriculture and factories and in fields such as oil exploration.

“The Saudi Arabian market has been exploring remote monitoring of oil wells and making temporary networks available in case of disasters,” the report said.

5G is also expected to rake-in up to $242 billion in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) revenues in the Middle East and Africa region by 2026, the report found.

As the world becomes better connected, cellular IoT (internet of things) connections in the Middle East and Africa are expected to grow from 35 million to 159 milion between 2017-2023, at a rate of around 30 percent.

Greater strength bandwidth will also help to connect a greater number of devices through the IoT network, enabling a 19 percent surge in revenues in the manufacturing, energy and utilities sector in the region.

Commenting on the report, Ammar Ammar, ‎chief technology officer, head of networks CU GCC and Pakistan, at ‎Ericsson said “public transport, healthcare, public safety, manufacturing, energy and utilities will grow.”

The commercial launch 5G network is expected in the UAE in 2020, with an important milestone to that goal being the World Radio Conference in June 2018, where discussions will be held on which spectrum of 5G will be licensed in Europe., the US and Middle East, paving the way for standards and regulations to be set, said Ammar.

“You as a subscriber and everybody can own a 5G device by 2020," he said. 

Mobile operators STC in Saudi, Ooredoo in Qatar and Etisalat in the UAE are among those competing to be the first to roll out a 5G commercial network in the region, he added.

“Roll out is expected after June 2018. For us [Middle East region] standardization will be confirmed in June 2018, and the spectrum will be hand-shaked in mid-2019,” he confirmed.

Apart from fast internet, 5G is expected to engender a boom in the number of IoT devices such as connected cars, and remote oil extraction, Ammar reported.

Such IoT devices depend on access to fast, reliable internet without delays in the time data is transmitted between devices, in order to operate safely, he said.

“Three elements for mining 5G [are] speed, enhanced mobile broadband, massive IoT, the number will grow 100-127 times and the critical applications, the ones that demand availability, reliability, and low latency,” he said.

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