Muscat:Oman could see 5G technology become available during 2019 or 2020, according to industry chiefs and regulators.
In the Middle East and North Africa, it is anticipated commercial 5G will account for around 60 million 5G subscriptions by the end of 2024, according to a report.
Speaking to Times of Oman, Eng. Yousuf Al Balushi, TRA’s Vice President for Spectrum Management, said: “The question of when people have 5G has more to do with companies and providers than with us as a regulatory authority. When it comes to regulation, we have provided all the tools that companies require in order to build their networks. ”
Still there are challenges which the TRA and providers have to overcome to make this possible.
Al Balushi added: “The biggest challenge is Oman’s terrain and spread of its population because thousands of towers need to be built to provide services to others. How do you build all of them quickly?
“Building the towers needs government authorities to work together for permits, but we have been able to coordinate between the TRA and other authorities to speed this up. There’s a lot of understanding between us because we know that 5G is not a technology for companies, but rather technology that develops the economy, health, and education all over the country,” he added.
Dr. Ali Al Hashmi, Senior Manager Network Design at Omantel, told Times of Oman, “We are keeping pace with 5G developments and continue to do so, particularly in the area of building the infrastructure.”
According to him, the benefits go beyond fast internet and gaming, and can completely change the way we live and interact with the world around us.
Al Hashmi said: “5G will mean a quantum leap for the public and for companies such as in logistics, health, and oil and gas. We expect to see more coordination between operators and other groups.
“Among this coordination is an example of people not needing to go to a clinic, but rather being able to use the internet to get their consultancy directly from their health provider, and perhaps even be able to get their medication or ambulance kit by drone. In oil and gas, their radars can be managed by robotics, which makes the job much safer for employees. 5G will also be able to provide logistics operators with the tools for higher efficiency. It may even have more uses than we as Omantel can imagine. The most important thing is that we as a company are ready for 5G,” he added.
Wojciech Bajda, Vice President and Head of Gulf Council Countries at Ericsson, told Times of Oman: “We do have the technology, and the service providers [in Oman] are interested because this is a new revenue stream. It is up to the industries. For example, when we talked to the seaports, we saw that we needed to spend a lot of time explaining the benefit of the technology. If the industry is convinced, this will go on very quickly. Currently, we see that as we speak to the industries, their interest grows. The readiness of these industries will set the future for 5G in Oman.
“About 2019, the serious engagements are occurring where we talk to the industries along with service operators. We believe that the real-use cases in seaports, oil and gas, and mining and healthcare will be happening at the end of this year and the beginning of 2020, especially in the GCC where you have mature operators, and the TRA. In Oman, I’m sure the TRA will provide all the support required for this to happen.
“As for the commercial, single person use? Currently if you go to an Etisalat shop in the UAE you can buy 5G today. It will be coming [to Oman] since the technology and terminals are out. It’s not a theory anymore, this is ready, “ he added.
These comments came during an event on Wednesday hosted by Ericsson and the Telecoms Regulatory Authority where companies showcased the uses of 5G.
During the technology event, visitors experienced a range of 5G uses from smart cities to virtual, augmented and mixed reality. The demos displayed how 5G-capabilities such as low latency and high data rates, combined with Augmented Reality (AR), can enable new and innovative real-time applications and services.
This included a 5G football demo highlighting how 5G will transform gaming. In addition, a city model demo presented flexible and cost-effective solutions for businesses, charting the potential of using today’s infrastructure to build tomorrow’s 5G networks.
Other exciting demos included the Augmented Reality Carousel, which outlines how the digital transformation of different industries will be powered by 5G and IoT using simple, intuitive yet powerful tools like AR.
Commenting on the event, Said Abdullah AL Ajmi, Vice President of Operations at Omantel, said: “We are very excited to work with both TRA and Ericsson to bring these to our people which demonstrate the unlimited possibilities that 5G can offer. This is an important milestone in our journey following several successful tests of the technology and a massive upgrade of our infrastructure and transmission network to accommodate the 5G technology requirements in Oman.”
According to Ericsson, the speed of 5G development in GCC countries is due to companies and authorities making it easier for companies to do work in the country, which the Telecommunications Regulation Authority confirmed.
An official from Ericsson told Times of Oman that although details cannot be given, the company is in talks with providers in Oman and that consumers can expect to hear good news by the end of 2019.