Overview and Background

The Digital Transformation wave is driving every single sector of the economy across geographies. Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT), Blockchain, Augmented reality and Virtual reality, Autonomous vehicles, Drones, Robots, Automation, Smart communities, Immersive education and so many other technologies are being explored for their wide use cases and applications. But this is not possible without a strong network infrastructure at its core. 5G is the backbone of these technologies. It is the beginning of a new era that will impact each and every aspect of our day to day living. 5G is not only a means of faster connections, offering more capacity and better performance; it is an enabler of doing business in a revolutionary way. It is an output of numerous technology innovations like antenna designs and device communication protocols to standardize the way how networks interact and applications collaborate with each other.

There is no doubt that 5G will generate new revenue streams with differentiated products and services for the end user; however, until when and how this value will be created is uncertain. LTE was a breakthrough and was expected to create new revenue streams for carriers, but the output was not as expected. There was intense price competition between carriers due to high traffic growth from over-the-top (OTT) video which resulted in declining average revenue per user (ARPU). Ultimately, carriers abandoned the desire of revenue growth from LTE-enabled applications and moved to help lower cost per bit to keep off the risk of falling behind competitors. Hence, it is important to understand and plan the 5G rollout in a way that will generate revenues and help business grow and sustain for a longer period.

5G: The Gulf Race

The 5G industry has made tremendous progress in past few months. Countries around the world have included 5G networks as a part of their national transformation strategies. South Korea for instance, is among the fastest growing nations to deploy 5G. LG U for instance, has already launched commercial 5G services in December 2018. Similarly, European, US and Chinese based carriers are also embarking on their 5G journey with plans to introduce the service commercially within the year. Countries in the Middle East region are not lagging behind either.

The 3GPP organisation released the first global unified 5G standard version as the foundation for 5G commercialisation allowing more countries to start deployment of 5G commercial networks. At the same time, technology vendors around the world have also been actively developing their 5G products and services in order to drive interest among operators and consumers to embrace 5G upon its launch. For instance, Huawei has launched the world’s first 5G CPE in 2018 with plans to launch 5G smartphones in H1 2019. Other vendors like Qualcomm and Samsung are also in process of developing their 5G chipsets & smartphones for potential release in 2019.

Gulf nations in Middle East have ambitious plans to mark their presence on the global ICT market landscape by launching 5G. Countries like Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have embarked on their national transformation drives and have recently taken active steps towards 5G adoption. In the KSA, Al Khobar was the first city to test a 5G Network recently. In Qatar, one of the leading telecom operators rolled out its 5G Supernet deployment, offering a band of 3.5 GHz for a commercial 5G network. Similarly in the UAE, a commercial 5G network was launched catered by fixed wireless services at selected locations by a leading telecom operator. Supporting this strong vision and mission of the Gulf countries, Huawei, a global Telecommunication solutions supplier has been a preferred choice in the region. Huawei has setup a strategic partnership in 5G areas with carriers, and signed 5G commercial contracts in the Middle East.

Globally, Huawei has shipped more than 25,000 5G base stations and obtained 30, 5G commercial contracts till now. Initially, Huawei is focusing on enhancing user experience by cost-efficient Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) and enhanced mobile broadband services (eMBB). Huawei is already in process of developing digital services leveraging various cloud-based platforms built on top of the strong network infrastructure with security and compliance at its core.

In April 2018, Huawei setup a 5G Ecosystem Programme that gathered operators, vertical industry partners and industry leaders to jointly explore future 5G use cases for consumer and enterprise applications, drive business and technology innovation, and promote an open ecosystem. As of February 2019, Huawei has more than 50 partners in Middle East who are actively working to bring and leverage 5G applications within multiple industries in the region.

Huawei is focused on developing its capabilities for large scale 5G commercial deployment, technological innovation capabilities, and cost effectiveness. The vendor has developed a cloud based platform where it works with its ecosystem partners to develop and launch new digital services in the region. Over this platform Huawei and other partners are coming together to build new services to capture the market more effectively and build a better connected 5G city.

The first wave of these digital services caters to segments like smart metering, smart CCTV, smart lighting, smart parking, smart homes, VR, location based services and drones, to name a few. Narrowband-IoT has emerged as a strong choice for operators to address the IoT opportunity. Vendors are partnering with module vendors, device and application integrators to develop new IoT solutions and digital services that can be introduced in the market.

Outlook

We are all aware that 5G certainly opens up a new world of opportunities; at the same time we also understand that it is a journey that will take time to build and start creating value for all stakeholders involved. This will only be possible by an open, secure, value oriented, and diverse ecosystem where various Industry partners will come together and embrace this journey for a successful 5G revolution, a belief that Huawei stands on.

Authored by:

Suraj Godse, Sr. Research Analyst, Digital Transformation, Frost & Sullivan
Saurabh Verma, Associate Director, Digital Transformation, Frost & Sullivan

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About Frost & Sullivan

For six decades, Frost & Sullivan has been world-renowned for its role in helping investors, corporate leaders and governments navigate economic changes and identify disruptive technologies, Mega Trends, new business models and companies to action, resulting in a continuous flow of growth opportunities to drive future success.

Frost & Sullivan

For six decades, Frost & Sullivan has been world-renowned for its role in helping investors, corporate leaders and governments navigate economic changes and identify disruptive technologies, Mega Trends, new business models and companies to action, resulting in a continuous flow of growth opportunities to drive future success.

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