Sunday 20 May 2018

Three Middle East Operators launch 'World's First' 5G Networks

I am sure you have heard of the saying, "Good news comes in threes". Well, what better than to have three Middle East operators claim World's First 5G Networks.

1. Ooredoo, Qatar:

Picture Source: IloveQatar

In a press release on 14 May, Ooredoo announced:

Ooredoo has today announced that the company is the first operator in the world to launch a live 5G network on the 3.5GHz spectrum band.

The breakthrough announcement was made in an event attended by Ooredoo senior management at the Ooredoo Tower in West Bay. Attendees were also briefed on the first Ooredoo 5G site which was accomplished just days after Ooredoo’s new 5G Commercial Core Network was activated.

Ooredoo’s 5G network is the first commercially available 5G network in the world and is an important technological breakthrough for the telecommunications industry worldwide.

Speaking at the event, Waleed Al Sayed, Chief Executive Officer, Ooredoo Qatar, said: “Today, Ooredoo and Qatar make history. We are the first company in the world to offer access to 5G technology and services, and the people of Qatar are the first to have access to the incredible benefits this technological upgrade will bring. We dedicate this important milestone to the people of Qatar and to our beloved leaders, who have encouraged this step in building the knowledge-based economy of Qatar.”

The first stage of Ooredoo’s 5G Supernet deployment will cover an area from The Pearl Qatar to Hamad International Airport, with Lagoona, Katara Cultural Village, West Bay, the Corniche and Souq Waqif also included in the initial commercial launch coverage area.

The Ooredoo 5G service offers the latest network technology (5G NR) meaning much higher speeds, capacity, and better latency, than existing cellular systems. The new network will bring advantages over the previous generations of cellular technology and will enable business and consumer customers to unlock more of their potential and explore opportunities that were simply not possible before 5G.

“Ooredoo has been a leader in 5G service deployment since 2016. We have invested in the testing and installation of our 5G network so that we can confidently open its benefits fully to our people and the world. The 5G Supernet will be the infrastructural backbone of Qatar as our nation pushes to offer the latest smart applications in-line with Qatar National Vision 2030. This network will provide the necessary foundation to introduce a wave of new innovations, including driverless cars and smart roads, virtual and augmented reality, a national fleet of service drones, and much more,” added Waleed Al Sayed.

In becoming the first company in the world to deploy commercial 5G, Ooredoo has built upon an impressive number of earlier milestones, including the first-in-the-region trials of 5G on Qatar National Day in 2016, the completion of 10 5G-ready base stations in May 2017, and the launch of the 5G Business services trial in partnership with Qatar Airways in November 2017.

Access to the Ooredoo 5G Supernet will require a 5G compatible device from Ooredoo. The company has announced that this is just the beginning of the Ooredoo 5G network, which will continue to be expanded over the coming months to cover even more areas of Qatar.

A video from the launch event as follows:

2. Saudi Telecom Company (STC), Saudi Arabia

Picture Source: TelecomDrive

In a very short press release on 15th May, STC announced:

STC announced the first live 5G network in MENA. This launching is the initial phase for operating the service once 5G special devices are available in the global markets. 

In January 2017, STC succeeded in advanced technical experiments and trials on 5G technology as part of the company's strategy of leading technological development and leading modern and advanced services. 

The widespread use of 5G will facilitate the dissemination of information, promote prosperity of the common digital economy and accelerate changes in productivity methods and lifestyles.

Back in March STC had announced a collaboration with Nokia for 5G launch.

TelecomDrive notes:

Eng. Nasser Al Nasser, STC Group CEO, expressed his proudness of this initial launching that confirms STC`s pioneering position in providing innovative services for the customers around the Kingdom and the region. He added:’ we have confidence, knowledge, and innovation, which will enable us to lead the 5G era”. He said:” the launching of 5G started with operating a number of towers, initially, in the eastern region”. Al Nasser added:”the company will continue working on building the network construction gradually in the cities of the Kingdom until the devices are available during of 2019”

3. Etisalat, UAE

'Khaleej Times' and 'The National' and many others ran an article on the 14th May about Etisalat 5G launch. There were no photos or videos and the press release noted:

In the first phase of the launch, 5G fixed wireless services (fixed and internet services) will be provided in selected locations in UAE, which will gradually expand to other parts of the country depending on consumer demand and requirements. The commercial fixed devices and services will be available for consumers starting from September this year.

Saleh Al Abdooli, CEO, Etisalat Group applauded the efforts of the entire team, he said: "Today's announcement is a historic moment for the company as the commercial launch of the 5G network will set a milestone for the UAE. Etisalat today is the first telecom operator in the world to provide this ultra-high 5G C-band data speed as a commercial service over the wireless network.

The press release on Etisalat's own website says:

“The launch of the 5G network and associated applications will also bring in an immense potential for all stakeholders providing them a platform to innovate, launch futuristic applications and empower the next generation with digital capabilities. As a company our vision ‘Driving the Digital Future to Empower Societies’ is also focused on making this digital future a reality by facilitating innovation, creativity and bringing technologies of the future to all our audiences across our markets.” 

Keeping in line with its vision of bringing in digital innovation, Etisalat was on track as the first operator in the MENA region to launch the first commercial 5G wireless network achieving a technology milestone and set an industry benchmark. Etisalat is the first operator to have a fully developed commercial 5G network available to provide gigabit internet services to its customers.

Now that the first 5G networks have been rolled out, we can move on and focus on important topics like how to make money and what new use cases will be served by 5G, etc.

Other news on this topic:

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