According to Ahmed Ijaz, Ericsson's principal consultant in the Middle East and Africa region, initial 5G subscription by 2024 would be almost double compared to LTE/4G technology take-up for a similar period.
Between 2011 to 2015, when the region saw initial LTE/4G deployment, 4G subscriptions topped 35 million users. However, the 5G subscription count may reach 60 million users between 2019 to 2024. The figure of 60 million would be primarily dominated by countries in the Gulf, particularly Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
In fact, Saudi Arabia was one of the earliest to deploy 5G infrastructure across the Middle East. As 5G is picking up, it is starting to become useful in a number of industries. In oil and gas for example, drones with high-resolution 5G cameras could harmonize operations and subsequently, they can be used to control and monitor pipelines in remote areas. Another area where the network is useful is within smart transportation, whereby its implementation could help ease the flow of traffic through monitored cameras and sensors.
For consumers, 5G will bring better network speeds. Especially in the GCC region, video consumption is massive. And with consumers opting for better phones with higher resolution displays, the quality of service will eventually improve. Eventually, one of the biggest driving factors for the adoption of 5G will be the availability of 5G smartphones.