Forecast predicts 50 million 5G connections in the region by 2025

Middle East mobile telephony operators will be early adopters of 5G technology, according to a recent study by the GSMA. The study projects there will be more than 50 million 5G connections across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region by 2025, with 5G networks covering approximately 30% of the region’s population by that point.

The report also highlights that 3G/4G networks currently account for about half of total mobile connections in the MENA region today and are expected to increase to 70% of the total by the end of the decade.

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states will be amongst the first in the world to launch commercial 5G networks. According to the GSMA, high 4G adoption rates and government support will pave the way for 5G development in the region. Both Etisalat and Ooredoo are already undertaking live 5G trials with commercial launches expected in 2020. The early launches are expected to be based on 3GPP Release 15 and be deployed in dense urban areas, the GSMA said.

“With rising mobile broadband adoption, growing subscriber numbers and increasing smartphone use, mobile is having an incredible impact across this diverse region, ushering in an era of innovative tech startups and new mobile services, as well as helping to connect the unconnected,” said Mats Granryd, director general, GSMA. “At the same time, we urge operators to continue investment in 4G networks to ensure future growth and encourage governments to set policies that promote technological, social and economic progress to create a society where all citizens can benefit from mobile technology.”

The study highlighted that there were 365 million mobile subscribers across the MENA region at the end of last year, accounting for 63% of the population, which is expected to rise to 399 million or 65% by 2020.

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