Revealed: how big will 5G be in the Middle East?

Ericsson says 5G subscriptions are expected to mostly come from advanced markets such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE
Revealed: how big will 5G be in the Middle East?
5G is expected to reach 30 million subscriptions for enhanced mobile broadband in the Middle East and Africa by the end of 2024.
By Sam Bridge
Thu 28 Feb 2019 02:11 PM

5G is expected to reach 30 million subscriptions for enhanced mobile broadband in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) by the end of 2024, representing 2 percent of total mobile subscriptions.

This will make 5G the fastest generation of cellular technology to be rolled out on a global scale, according to the new regional edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report.

Key drivers for 5G deployment include increased network capacity, lower cost per gigabyte and new use case requirements, the report said.

It added that the majority of the 5G subscriptions in the MEA are expected to come from advanced ICT markets like the GCC countries Saudi Arabia and UAE while in Africa, considerable momentum is building up in South Africa.

From a mobile data traffic point of view, the region is globally the highest with nine times growth forecast from 2018 to 2024 and mobile broadband subscriptions to double from 860 to 1,630 million in the same period.

The report said the MEA region’s telecom market is characterised by increasing uptake of LTE and there is a high usage of apps.

Economies in the Middle East and North Africa have shown signs of recovery in 2018 and are expected to grow by 3.9 percent in 2019 as oil exporters benefit from the improved outlook for oil prices.

The report noted that continued economic growth in the region, coupled with a young population, favorable policies and lower cost devices will drive investment in the telecoms sector, increasing uptake of ICT services.

LTE subscriptions will have the highest growth at 23% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2018 and 2022, driven by increased mobile communications service provider investment in 4G networks as well as rising usage of data-intensive mobile services in the region.

The combination of increasing usage of mobile video applications on higher resolution screens and better network throughputs will lead to a rise in the data traffic per active smartphone from 2.9GB per month in 2018 to 15GB per month in 2024, the report added.

Rafiah Ibrahim, head of Ericsson Middle East and Africa, said: “As 5G now hits the market, its coverage build-out and uptake in subscriptions is expected to be faster than for previous generations. At the same time, cellular IoT continues to grow strongly. As networks mature and ecosystems evolve, service providers need to become increasingly agile to achieve the goal of profitable growth.”

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