Abu Dhabi: The launch of 5G services will be a boost to the UAE economy with its impact most keenly felt on health care, manufacturing, banking, education and retail. The high-speed telecom networks are also expected to boost the transportation sector and making driverless cars a reality.
But the number of 5G enabled mobile phones in the market is still low and that could be a constraint in the adoption of new technology. The devices are also costlier.
Etisalat and du have rolled out the fifth generation network in partnership with ZTE, and with plans to expand the service to other phone brands as well.
“Hopefully, mobile network operators will introduce new plans for both private customers and business entities with more generous data allowances, which is needed to accelerate adoption,” said Nikola Kosutic, research manager at Euromonitor International.
According to Euromonitor estimates, the VR/AR industry in the UAE will reach a size of $1 billion in 2020 due to the wider usage of 5G technology.
More 5G devices on the way
Currently, Etisalat and du are selling 5G-enabled ZTE Axon Pro 10 devices at retail stores as well as online with flexible payment plans. Etisalat customers can purchase a ZTE Axon 10 Pro from Marina Mall in Abu Dhabi and Dubai Mall on a 12-, 18- or 24-month contract starting from Dh241.
Du, on the other hand, said the ZTE Axon Pro 10 devices are available through some of its retail stores as well as online. It is planning to add Huawei Mate 20X to its 5G device portfolio soon. (The ZTE Axon 10 Pro costs Dh5,555, excluding the 5 per cent VAT.)
“The 5G network is available to all du customers via the ZTE Axon 10 Pro handset, with the portfolio of 5G devices expected to expand further,” said Saleem Al Beloushi, chief infrastructure officer at Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company, which owns du. The telco is also working to enhance 5G services to home customers’ Wi-Fi, regardless of the network speeds their current devices operate on, he added.
“We foresee the number of consumers will increase significantly in 2020-21, specially with the much bigger number of 5G devices that are forecasted, plus the expected decrease in price level for those devices.”
Du earlier this year announced a target of installing 700 5G-enabled base stations by year-end, and is “on track to follow through on this objective,” the official added.
Government ties itself closer to tech
Getting to speed on 5G comes as the UAE government puts emphasis on boosting tech sector with new licensing procedures as well as establishing tech hubs. The Abu Dhabi government earlier this week announced the launch of new licenses for businesses that specialise in technology, with 13 new activities outlined. It also announced a Dh1 billion tech centre — named Hub71 — at Abu Dhabi Global Market to lure start-ups in the tech sphere.
“Government is driving a number of initiatives and has developed series of strategies where adoption of emerging technologies is one of the main pillars,” said Kosutic. “These services are built around IoT (internet of Things) as well as Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality (AR/VR), where mobile internet speed and low latency are crucial for the successful deployment.”
According to Esam Al Mazroui, vice-chairman of Telematics, “The new technology is going to have a huge impact on the economy as well as on day-to-day lives of people in boosting learning, medical treatment and also in improvement in business.
“Distance learning is going to become easy. Students sitting in any part of the world can attend online classes and it looks like a real class due to high-speed internet connectivity. It will also have profound impact on the health care industry with doctors remotely monitoring patients and advising treatment.”