Omdia’s market survey reveals the MENA industry is optimistic about 5G periodically invites expert third parties to share their views on the industry’s most pressing issues. In this piece Francesca Greane, Marketing, Content and Community Lead for 5G MENA 2020, discusses the findings from Omdia and 5G MENA’s recent market survey. 

Recently, research powerhouse Omdia and 5G MENA completed their annual market survey, hearing from hundreds of service and solution providers in the region as they determined the true state of 5G across Middle East and Africa. According to the survey results, the telecoms industry in MENA expects the launch of 5G to have a positive impact on the revenue and profit margins of service providers in the region. But the survey, which is summarised in Omdia’s latest Market Survey Report, also revealed that the industry sees challenges in deploying and commercialising 5G.

The main findings of the survey can be summarised below:

The advanced Gulf markets have launched 5G early by global and regional standards.

The early launches of 5G in the Gulf reflect the fact that these are high-income countries with ambitions to use technology to advance national development plans. Almost 60% of respondents to the survey said technology leadership was their company’s main reason for deploying 5G.

The MENA industry expects 5G to have a positive impact on the key financial metrics of service providers. Although survey respondents see the near-term business case for 5G services as a challenge, they also have a wider and longer-term expectation that 5G will raise service provider revenue and profit margins in the MENA region. This view is based on a number of outcomes from the survey responses, including:

  • 34% of respondents worked for a company that had launched commercial 5G services in 2019
  • 22.5% of respondents expect their company to launch by the end of 2020, whilst 9% expect to launch in 2021, and 6.7% in 2022
  • 27% of respondents did not expect their company to launch 5G until 2023 or later

Survey respondents see media and entertainment as a promising industry for 5G revenue in MENA. Almost 59% of survey respondents saw media and entertainment as one of the three best opportunities for 5G revenue in MENA, while digital media use cases were ranked second only to mobile broadband for 5G revenue opportunities. The high ranking for media and entertainment are a significant indicator of industry expectation.

Based on both the survey results, and extensive analysis on the 5G ecosystem across MENA today, Omdia provided some key recommendations for solution and service providers operating in the region, including:

  • 5G launches and services should be based on market conditions, and determined by the circumstances of each market, rather than business transformation goals
  • 5G revenue opportunities in digital media and the entertainment industry should be explored and prioritised by service providers who are looking to monetise the deployment of their 5G network rapidly.
  • Regulators should consider network sharing and wholesale options, as the industry begins to roll out new network technology, in order to improve connectivity and competition whilst minimising cost, complexity and inefficiencies.

The entirety of the survey responses, alongside key market and business recommendations can be found in Omdia’s Market Survey report. Download the full report for free by clicking here.

Join the destination for 5G game-changers by claiming your FREE pass to 5G MENA 2020 (29-31 March, Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Dubai) now.

Bringing together telecom operators, solution providers, regulators, OTT players and IoT specialists from across the region, this years’ event will explore the many 5G roadmaps and architectural options available on the route to fully realising 5G deployment. Don’t miss out on being part of the conversation at this crucial stage of network development; click to get your pass to join us in Dubai this March!

What will define the future of 5G in MENA? periodically invites expert third parties to share their views on the industry’s most pressing issues. In this piece Francesca Greane, Marketing, Content and Community Lead for 5G MENA 2020, discusses the evolving 5G ecosystem in the MENA region.

According to a recent report by Ovum, some of the key trends that can be expected in the MENA region in 2020 and beyond are largely driven by the diversity in the region. Indeed, whilst several Gulf states are among the first in the world to launch commercial 5G services, elsewhere in the region there are still a significant number of people with little or even no access to basic communications services.

In a region with such disparity, the question around the future of 5G in MENA is one that doesn’t have a simple answer. Indeed, whilst increased investment in 5G wireless network will be a “priority” for global telecoms operators in 2020, the true direction of the region remains, as of yet, undefined.

We’ve already seen Etisalat, the UAE’s biggest telecoms operator, become the first service provider in the region to offer a 5G network, supporting smartphones for commercial use, in May. This move was soon followed by the country’s second telecoms operator Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company, or du as it is commonly known, and Bahrain’s Batelco.

Commenting on progress in the region Chafic Traboulsi, Head of Networks for Middle East and Africa at Ericsson noted that “In the Middle East and North Africa (Mena), commercial 5G deployments with leading service providers have taken place in 2019… and more deployments are expected in 2020 and beyond. As a result, by the end of 2025, we expect 90 million 5G subscriptions in Mena, representing around 10 per cent of total mobile subscriptions.”

However, according to Matthew Kendall, Chief Telecoms analyst at The Economist Intelligence Unit, “5G roll-out is dependent on the timely release of spectrum and no small amount of hard cash”. Given the existing “low margins and cost pressures” experienced by many operators – some of whom continue to focus on boosting 4G speeds, availability and geographic coverage – take-up of 5G is likely to be slow next year, Mr Kendall explained.

So, what is the future of 5G in MENA?

In collaboration with 5G MENA 2020, Ovum are looking to help service providers answer their business-defining questions by conducting their annual 5G MENA Market 2020 Survey, which delves into critical topics including:

  • The Reality of 5G Deployment
  • The Business Case for 5G Deployment in MENA
  • The Commercial Opportunities for 5G in MENA
  • The Regional and Global Opportunities for 5G
  • The Revenue Opportunities for 5G in MENA

You can have your say on the key trends, opportunities and challenges for 5G in MENA by taking ten minutes to answer the survey now. To say thank you, all respondents will receive a free copy of Ovum’s 5G MENA Markers Report, which will provide insight into the emerging 5G ecosystem in MENA that operators and solution providers need to stay ahead of the curve. You can complete the survey by clicking HERE.


Join the destination for 5G game-changers by claiming your FREE pass to 5G MENA 2020 (29-31 March, Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Dubai) now.

Etisalat launches Open vRAN network and promises more

Etisalat has said it has successfully launched what it describes as the first Open Virtual Radio Access Network (Open vRAN) in the Middle-East and Africa.

In collaboration with Altiostar, NEC and Cisco, amongst others, Etisalat has launched the network allowing it to incorporate commercial off the shelf (COTS) hardware from third parties, in an attempt to reduce time to market and cost for its network deployment.

“Keeping in line with Etisalat’s strategy of ‘Driving the digital future to empower societies’, deploying the Open vRAN is vital in enabling digital transformation aimed at increasing efficiencies and the utilisation of AI,” said Saeed Al Zarouni, SVP, Mobile Network at Etisalat.

“Today’s announcement is aligned with UAE’s objectives of achieving digital transformation with the deployment of best-in-class technologies. Etisalat now plans to roll out Open vRAN across the UAE to take full advantage of all the benefits that this new technology offers.”

Etisalat currently uses Ericsson and Huawei as traditional suppliers, though these contracts could be diluted if the telco makes good on its promise to push Open vRAN throughout its network.

The purpose of Open vRAN is relatively straight forward. The initiative, first launched by Cisco at Mobile World Congress 2018, aims to build an open and modular architecture, General Purpose Processing Platforms (GPPP) and disaggregated software. It is a challenge to the network infrastructure status quo, with Open vRAN being billed as cheaper and more time-efficient thanks to the freedom to purchase equipment from wherever and whoever.

Although there are several high-profile initiatives currently gathering steam, Vodafone, MTN and Sprint are three examples, perhaps the most interesting is in Japan.

Over the course of the summer, Rakuten and NEC announced a partnership to deploy what was described as the world’s first 5G open vRAN architecture. Rakuten is in a very interesting position, as thanks to it being an entirely new MNO in the Japanese market, network deployment plans are not burdened by the heavy weight of legacy.

While few telcos have the same opportunity to develop a greenfield network in the same way as Rakuten, the Open vRAN ripples do appear to be gathering momentum.

Q&A with Marwan Bin Dalmook, SVP ICT Solutions & Smart City Operations at Du

Marwan Bin Dalmook, SVP ICT Solutions & Smart City Operations from Du spoke to the 5G MENA team ahead of his session at the event. Marwan talks about his innovative projects and shares his expertise on how blockchain, 5G & IoT will enable smarter cities.

Can you tell us about your role at Du and your work on 5G?

I am responsible for the ICT Solutions & Smart City Operations at Du. We develop ICT solutions, which can also be customized for bespoke customer requirements, providing end to end delivery and operational services.

As the leadership of the UAE is always at the forefront of technological advancements, we also at Du are positioned extremely well as a leader in the adoption of 5G and a host of other emerging technologies such as Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Smart Cities and IoT.

Du has been playing a pivotal role in the digital transformation space; delivering managed service-centric ICT solutions to Government entities and Large Enterprises. Du is committed to achieving excellence in improving the lives of the people of the UAE, and henceforth, 5G will be the catalyst of digital transformation with its ultra-high-speed wireless broadband services, with which, UAE and Du’s strategic initiatives are facilitated. We, in Du ICT division, are committed to delivering ambitious plans to expand our ICT offerings and bundle it with 5G use cases in the domains of IoT, Smart Cities, and M2M to name a few.

What should we expect to see next from Du’s 5G enabled smart city projects?

We firmly believe that IoT and related use cases will be the principal driver for 5G across the global community of service providers.
Smart City use cases, such as IoT use cases, Augmented Reality (AR), and Virtual Reality (VR), smart metering, smart lighting, and smart districts are a few examples of where 5G will play a pivotal role as a key enabler in the rollout of such services.

Additionally, with 5G facilitating big data transfer between machines (M2M), Cloud Services & IoT, with folds of Gigabits per second, the requirements of real-time data-driven smart cities will be met.

Du are pioneers in smart city technology, how are you monetising your innovative solutions?

The core of Smart Cities resides in the power of data and what can come out of it – with a state-of-the-art cloud environment, and with a nation-wide connectivity backbone, we are able to ingest a multitude of data from different data sources, be it IoT sensors, metadata from either enterprise or consumers for further analytics. With the adoption of fast-transforming technologies such as Cloud computing, Big Data & Analytics, IoT, AI, and connectivity backbone, we are at the forefront of innovative solutions. Examples include Data Analytics as a Service, Dashboard as a Service, Cloud Services, Blockchain, IoT Use Cases, M2M, and beyond such as Machine Learning and AI.

For example, we’ve successfully engaged in a Dubai Silicon Oasis Park as a master system integrator building a smart community featuring intelligent & smart & safety solutions. As a strategic partner of Smart Dubai Office, we have designed and built Dubai’s Smart City platform – Dubai Pulse, a digital backbone powering Dubai’s smart city transformation. As a smart community, Silicon Park will feature intelligent solutions from charging docks for smart devices on the streets to smart pop-up furniture

Which industry verticals do you expect to see the most demand from for smart city technologies in the next three years?

Each industry vertical will have its own unique set of use cases. Data-driven use cases are endless, and therefore, the disruption of new technologies and advanced connectivity will have an impact merely on all industries, such as Transport, Health, Smart City, Utilities, Retail, Education, Enterprise and Government to name a few.

At 5G MENA this 7-9 April in Dubai, you will be taking part in a panel discussion about applying blockchain, 5G & IoT to enable smart cities. How do you see these three technological developments working together now and in the future?

With the emergence of 5G, for example, IoT technologies & M2M communication complemented with data analytics & cloud computing will radically alter the landscape of all businesses and henceforth making cities smarter. 5G is a critical enabler to the adoption of new and emerging technologies. Cloud computing and IoT streamline data collection, data science and analytics; coupled with 5G, and data transfer speed will no longer be a hurdle.

Making cities smarter is a never-ending journey. We have to look at what makes our cities smart; it’s all about data-driven use cases and IoT. Emerging technologies such as Blockchain will add a digital, decentralized and distributed ledger that keeps a record of all transactions across peer to peer networks securely, that is tamper proof. Blockchain can be used to make our cities smarter; applications are numerous, by creating ecosystems of solutions covering multiple use cases across multiple sectors.


Marwan Bin Dalmook

To hear more from Marwan, secure a place at 5G MENA: the largest event in the MENA region to focus on advancing and commercialising 5G networks. Apply for your free operator pass here and join us on the 7-9 April in Dubai.