Manama: Khobar in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province has become the first city in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to benefit from a pilot project on the fifth-generation wireless network – the 5G network.

The project was implemented during the first week of Ramadan in a move that was welcomed by a specialised agency of the United Nations responsible for addressing issues concerning information and communications technology worldwide.

The project was launched soon after Saudi Arabia’s national ICT regulator, Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC), issued licences for testing the 5G mobile network using 100 MHz channels in the bandwidth of 3.6Ghz – 3.8GHz.

The CITC plans to convert the test-and-trial licences to full and exclusive 5G spectrum contracts in 3.4-3.8 GHz by mid-2019.

The implementation of 5G technology goes hand in hand with Saudi Arabia’s plans to build a leading modern economy as outlined in its Vision 2030.

“Saudi Arabia is determined to be a world leader in 5G to take early advantage of its benefits,” Abdullah Al Sawaha, the Minister of Communications and Information Technology, said, quoted by the Riyadh-based International Centre for Communication (CIC)

5G services require access to spectrum in a variety of bands to support the multitude of use cases, so the quality of the services currently offered need to be improved in order to accommodate much wider channels than those in use today.