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By Allen Tang, President of Huawei Middle East and Central Asia ICT Marketing and Solution Sales

In the Middle East, operators are gearing up for the commercialisation of 5G-Advanced (5G-A) in 2024. This significant leap forward promises to reshape the digital connectivity landscape across the region. With its ground-breaking features, including the first phase to achieve 5 Gbps downlink, 500 Mbps uplink speed, and 20 ms latency, eventually reaching 10 Gbps downlink, 1 Gbps uplink, and 4 ms latency in phase two. 5G-A stands at the forefront of ushering in an era of enhanced connectivity services. This evolution is not merely about faster speeds; it represents a transformative shift that will fuel social and economic development, catalyse the digitisation of industries, and revolutionise enterprise operations in the region.

A New Beginning for SMEs

The advent of 5G-A and its evolution from Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) to FWA² heralds a transformative era for SMEs in the Middle East, characterised by ultra-low latency and heightened reliability, offering a compelling alternative to traditional connectivity methods such as microwave and copper lines.

This technological leap is not merely a technical upgrade but extends the benefits of FWA from residential scenarios directly to the region's SMEs, which are integral to its rapidly expanding digital economy. Enhanced connectivity via 5G-A is set to underpin enterprise operations, enabling unparalleled levels of interconnectivity, efficiency, and access to advanced digital tools such as IoT, AI, and big data analytics. By facilitating smoother integration with the global digital economy, improving operational efficiencies, and fostering innovation, the shift to 5G-A technology positions Middle Eastern SMEs at the forefront of digital transformation, empowering them to thrive in an increasingly competitive and interconnected market landscape.

The Digital Transformation Catalyst

The advent of 5G-A technology, propels the Middle East at the brink of a digital evolution, marking a significant shift, transform towards an integrated digital ecosystem. 5G-A, offering a wide bandwidth up to 10Gbps, low latency as low as 4ms, and high reliability, is poised to meet the region's specific needs in networking, computing, cloud services, and the Internet of Things (IoT), across various sectors such as healthcare, education, manufacturing, and logistics. In healthcare, for example, 5G-A could enable real-time remote monitoring and telemedicine services, providing critical healthcare access in remote areas. In education, it could transform learning experiences through virtual and augmented reality, making education more accessible and engaging. Moreover, 5G-A is critical for the realisation of smart city ambitions in national projects, Saudi Arabia and UAE, facilitating the seamless integration of IoT devices for efficient management of resources and environmental monitoring.

Revolutionising Enterprise Production Processes

Also, the 5G-A technology is poised to transform key industry sectors in the region such as oil and gas, renewable energy, manufacturing, and logistics, by redefining their core production processes, with its 1Gbps high uplink, 4ms latency, and unmatched reliability. In the oil and gas sector, essential to the region's economy, 5G-A will enhance operational efficiency and safety through real-time monitoring with high-definition cameras and AI integration, proving critical in remote and challenging environments. Renewable energy projects will benefit from optimised energy production and predictive maintenance, enabled by real-time data on weather conditions. The manufacturing sector is on the brink of embracing smart factories with IoT and AI-driven automation, quality control, and supply chain optimisation, catering to the demand for personalised products. The logistics sector, vital for regional and global connectivity, will see improvements in operational efficiency and customer satisfaction through enhanced real-time tracking and fleet management.

Fulfilling the Promise of Comprehensive IoT

More promising, 5G-A will herald a new era for the Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem, presenting unprecedented connectivity and innovation. With capabilities such as enhanced uplink bandwidth, and reduced latency, 5G-A supports a diverse range of IoT applications, enabling the region’s transformation into a digital and innovation hub. This advancement is crucial for industrial sectors aiming for diversification and modernisation, enabling real-time CCTV monitoring, predictive maintenance, and resource optimisation, particularly in the pivotal oil and gas industry.

Furthermore, the vision for smart cities in Dubai, Riyadh, and Doha, among others, will be enhanced through optimised smart infrastructure, making urban areas more efficient, sustainable, and convenient. Additionally, the affordability of RedCap and Passive IoT terminals is expected to accelerate IoT adoption, potentially creating a trillion-device market, transforming agriculture, retailing, and logistics sectors. This vast network of IoT devices, enhanced by 5G-A, will accelerate economic growth, drive innovation, and improve quality of life across the region, with the burgeoning e-commerce sector benefiting from improved logistics and supply chain management, thus offering better customer service and reliability.

Enhancing Road Safety and Traffic Efficiency through Vehicle-to-Road Collaboration

Many Middle Eastern countries are in the midst of significant urban advancements. Their rapidly growing cities and smart infrastructure investments are positioning them for a major leap forward. Now, with the emergence of 5G-A technology, the region aims to revolutionise urban mobility. Keeping an eye on the global emergence of 350 million connected vehicles by the end of 2030, 5G-A’s vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication capabilities herald a future of enhanced driving safety, optimised traffic management, and environmental sustainability. This is thanks to its wide-area coverage, ultra-low latency, and very high reliability.

Major cities like Dubai, Riyadh, and Doha could be inspired by Shanghai’s 5G-A-driven improvements in traffic efficiency and commuting times, and harness these advancements to meet their smart mobility and sustainability goals. The collaborative efforts between entities like Huawei and its industry partners underline the importance of a unified approach in developing the necessary ecosystem for 5G-A deployment. Moreover, the successful hosting of large international events has highlighted the role of innovative technologies in transportation logistics, suggesting that 5G-A could further elevate real-time traffic management and autonomous vehicle support. The commercialisation of 5G-A in the Middle East will not only enhance urban mobility but also stimulate economic growth, technological innovation, and quality of life, marking the region’s stride towards becoming a global pioneer in smart city development and technological advancement.

In Conclusion: Pioneering a Connected Future

The arrival of 5G-A technology in the Middle East transcends mere technological advancement, heralding a transformative shift in the operational dynamics of businesses and the societal fabric at large. This leap forward equips operators with the means to offer superior connectivity services, paving the way for a deeper integration of ICT, bolstering core production processes, and catalysing the widespread embracement of IoT technologies. Such strides in technology are instrumental in propelling the digitisation of industries, boosting the efficiency of enterprises, and fostering an overall enhancement in the socio-economic landscape of the region.

As the Middle East stands on the precipice of this new technological era, the symbiotic collaboration between industry magnates and technological pioneers becomes imperative. This collective endeavour is vital for unlocking the extensive capabilities of 5G-A, setting the stage for a future where the proliferation of intelligent, interconnected applications is not just a vision, but a reality. This future promises not only to redefine the operational blueprint of industries but also to enrich the quality of life, making smart, sustainable living an attainable goal across the region. The integration of 5G-A into the Middle East's digital ecosystem signifies a step towards realising its ambitious goals for technological leadership and innovation, ensuring that the region remains at the forefront of the global digital revolution.

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