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OPINION

Ahmed Ben Messaoud

Commercial 5G to shape Bahrain’s digital future

MANAMA, July 7, 2020

By Ahmed Ben Messaoud

There is a unique power in technology that encourages creativity and transforms people’s lives, businesses and the society. As an unprecedented crisis has had a substantial impact on people, consumers see resilient networks as a vital help in coping with everyday life. People today are more connected than ever before which makes us a part of something which is bigger than us – and innovation is the driving force in creating a new normal.

Bahrain, in particular, is driven by aspirations to leverage innovation and shared learning to build a better life for its people. Innovation is a key part of the Bahrain Economic Vision 2030. This strong futuristic vision will be realized through 5G technologies – transforming the way we live and work.

From a mobile data traffic point of view, the Middle East & Africa is globally the highest with nine times growth forecast, with the average data per smartphone expected to reach 23GB per month in 2025, according to the latest Ericsson Mobility Report forecasts.

How will service providers in the region manage a massive increase in mobile data traffic and address the growing complexity of the network? By deploying the best technology for the job. And that's 5G.

In fact, the region’s ICT industry has never seen anything like the journey to 5G. Expected to reach 80 million 5G subscriptions in the MENA region by 2025, 5G presents an incredible opportunity for service providers to reap the rewards of new use cases and offer services that generate revenue growth.

Commercial 5G deployments with leading service providers have taken place during 2019 and 5G subscriptions have already passed 500,000, mainly in the Gulf countries. Now is the time for service providers to utilize their market-leading technologies to develop solutions that empower people and businesses.

5G in Bahrain

Bahrain has commercially deployed 5G to enhance the digital lives of people, enterprises and industries. Enhanced mobile broadband is the first large-scale global use case for 5G – which is a key factor to remember as it drives the next wave of productivity within Bahrain’s ICT sector.

The high-speed and low-latency 5G technology will help meet growing data traffic demands and deliver high-quality enhanced mobile broadband and fixed wireless access experiences –providing fiber speeds without fiber to home. Consumers will get a faster, more stable, more secure connection – along with new services.

Here, it is important to note that consumers have extremely high expectations of mobile broadband performance. They expect to be able to stream videos seamlessly wherever they are, regardless of how many others are trying to do the same.

The shift to 5G will bring enhanced mobile broadband to data-hungry subscribers across Bahrain with huge speed and low-latency changes in on-the-go user experiences such as streaming, downloading, gaming, infotainment, and interactivity. Upgrading to 5G will also bring rapid relief to consumers suffering from capacity constraints in their networks.

In addition, 5G will also help open-up opportunities in the Internet of Things (IoT) and Industry 4.0 on a global scale to enterprises and industries in Bahrain. Which is why Ericsson is strengthening its efforts to raise awareness of the experiential capabilities of 5G through innovative use cases and how they can be put in service towards the industry’s digital transformation.

This knowledge is imperative for the nation to take full advantage of untapped emerging revenue streams from the digitalization of industries. On a telco level, Bahrain’s service providers must increase investment to dramatically improve coverage, reliability, and speed across nationwide networks to launch 5G mobile networks.

5G will introduce new capabilities that will allow operators to develop new use cases, applications, services and revenue streams, towards consumer, enterprise and different industries and markets. However, for the full 5G potential, large-scale rollout and to achieve long-term success, two main areas need to be addressed, namely spectrum availability and use case development.

Mobile service providers need considerable support from regulators to carve out enough spectrum in existing mid and low bands. On the other hand, high band and mmWave spectrum is needed for addressing ultra-low latency cases like automation, AR and remote monitoring.

Advantages of 5G include improved speed, lower latency, increased capacity and greater flexibility. The question is, will consumers in Bahrain eventually pay for these? A shift towards service-based pricing or perhaps creating a sense of the unlimited, could be a savvy move by carriers, as the transition to 5G ultimately will not involve consumers paying per gigabyte but rather an unlimited future.

In Bahrain today, a number of companies and cities are deploying existing technology solutions that are paving the way for digitalization. And tomorrow, intelligent devices including sensors and other connected devices coupled with flexible network capability, will enable never before seen data analytics that will result in social and economic benefits including things like traffic alleviation, smart building design and energy management—all informed using advanced intelligent networking capability.

Such an abundance of possibilities, once only the stuff of science fiction, is now within reach for us. Though 5G opportunities are substantial, they do not come without their challenges. As in any technology transition, stakeholders need to learn, learn and learn.

About the author

Ahmed Ben Messaoud is Country Manager of Ericsson Bahrain

 




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