5G will be the launchpad for countless new applications, from self-driving cars and smart cities to augmented reality (AR), a new report by The Economist Intelligence Unit has said.
According to 'The 5G Readiness Guide: Deployment strategies, opportunities and challenges across the globe' report, 5G networks will offer benefits in the form of hyper fast connections, improved reliability, high capacity and low latency. For telecoms operators, the upgrade represents an opportunity to move beyond communication services to offer hi-tech solutions to businesses. Businesses can use these technologies to transform their operations and optimise efficiency, while governments can create a robust 5G infrastructure to attract investment, create jobs and drive economic growth.
The report highlighted that the benefits of 5G are significant, but so is the investment necessary for its rollout. As operators and governments decide which markets will offer the best returns on 5G, there are several factors to consider. Strong and affordable infrastructure - with the right spectrum and good coverage of base stations - will be the foundation, but operators will also need to find the right 5G products and service applications to sell.
Finally, the business environment will need to support significant research and development (R&D), so that 5G capabilities are developed and used in the most efficient way. The weighting of these factors differs markedly by region.
The report also showed that South Korea, Taiwan, and China are among the world leaders in terms of their 5G rollouts; while Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Kuwait rank among the top 10 countries globally in terms of average 5G download speed. In fact, all six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members completed 5G spectrum auctions by 2018 and launched their first networks in mid-2019. The region’s governments have integrated 5G development into their economic-diversification plans, as they seek to build business, technology and manufacturing hubs.
Fredrik Jejdling, executive vice president and head of Networks at Ericsson, says that the world is in the "next phase of 5G", with accelerating roll-outs and coverage expansion in pioneer markets. "Now is the time for advanced use cases to start materializing and deliver on the promise of 5G. Businesses and societies are also preparing for a post-pandemic world, with 5G-powered digitalisation playing a critical role.”
According to the Ericsson Mobility Report, at the end of 2020, the GCC had the highest average monthly data traffic per smartphone in the world, exceeding 18GB. Globally 5G is expected to surpass a billion subscriptions two years ahead of the 4G LTE timeline for the same milestone. Key factors behind that include China’s earlier commitment to 5G and the earlier availability and increasing affordability of commercial 5G devices. More than 300 5G smartphone models have already been announced or launched commercially.
Additionally, 5G mobile subscriptions will exceed 580 million globally by the end of 2021, driven by an estimated one million new 5G mobile subscriptions every day. As one of the key economies in the GCC, the UAE is supporting the use and growth of technologies such as 5G in a region where mobile data consumption is the highest in the world. This commercial 5G momentum is expected to continue in coming years, spurred by the enhanced role of connectivity as a key component of post-Covid-19 economic recovery.
According to Ericsson, 5G will account for 73 percent of all mobile subscriptions in the GCC by 2026.
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