United Kingdom based Ovum has predicted that 5G network will be available in about 10 Middle East and African countries by the end of 2023, with over 26.8 million mobile 5G subscriptions in the region.

This figure, according to Ovum represents less than 2 percent of the 1.7 billion mobile subscriptions that would be available in the region by the end of 2023.

The research and analyst company believes that the growth of 5G is slowed down owing to the fact it will still be a young technology in 2023, with economies of scale yet to take full effect, emphasisning that a more important indicator than the number of 5G subscriptions is the rate of progress in developing new use cases and businesses for 5G in the region.

“5G-enabled smartphones are expected to come onto the market in the second half of 2019, allowing operators to use 5G as a mobile broadband technology, with enhanced capabilities for applications including video and augmented reality. The standards for 5G core networks are expected to be completed by the end of 2019 and will enable new capabilities for 5G, such as network slicing, massive machine-type communications, and ultra-low latency,” it noted.

Ovum noted that as is also the case for other markets where early launches of 5G are taking place, the first use case for 5G in MEA is for fixed wireless broadband. That’s because the first set of standards for 5G are only for radio technology, and CPEs for fixed wireless broadband are the first 5G devices to become commercially available.

In MEA, new use cases and applications for 5G are expected to develop around the smart city projects that are underway in the advanced Gulf markets, as well as major forthcoming events, such as the Expo 2020 exhibition in the UAE, and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Vodacom is hoping to develop new use cases with a social purpose for 5G in e-education and telemedicine.


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