Saudi Arabia, China and Indonesia keep 5G in the headlines

Saudi Arabia, China and Indonesia keep 5G in the headlines

More 5G plans are under discussion – or under way – across Asia and the Middle East. Three of the most recent 5G announcements come from Saudi Arabia, China and Indonesia.

Mobile network operator Zain Saudi Arabia has launched 5G services in the Kingdom. The 5G network uses spectrum in the 2600MHz and 3500MHz bands, along with Massive MIMO, to deliver enhanced network capacity, coverage, and improved downlink and uplink speeds.

Zain also plans to introduce E-Band microwave in certain areas to allow for ultra-high-capacity backhaul networks. Under the three-year deal with Nokia, whose end-to-end portfolio Zain is using, thousands of 5G sites are expected to be deployed.

China Mobile may not be far behind, although of course it is serving a larger population and geographical area. It has brought forward plans to launch 5G commercially, announcing that its service will go live in 50 cities by the end of the year rather than in 2020.

Media reports suggest that the operator hopes to deploy over 50,000 5G base stations across China by the end of the year. In 2020 it aims to expand coverage to every city of prefecture level (of which there are around 300) and above. The operator is also said to be planning significant investment in 5G content, such as high-definition videos and games.

A little further off are Indonesia’s first 5G mobile network services. Chinese network equipment provider ZTE, which has been very active in 5G agreements of late, has signed a memorandum of understanding with Indonesia’s largest operator, PT Telkom Indonesia, that will see the partners work together on rolling out the country’s first 5G mobile network services. These are expected to be launched in the second half of 2020.

Asia Pacific is certainly a 5G region worth watching, at least according to the latest Asia Pacific edition of the GSMA’s Mobile Economy series, published, not surprisingly, at MWC19 in Shanghai. The report suggests that Asia’s mobile operators are set to invest $370 billion building out new 5G networks between 2018 and 2025.

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