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Bahrain Targets 5G Launches In June

Bahrain set out its stall in a bid to be one of the first countries globally to provide commercial 5G services, with operators in the process of deploying the necessary infrastructure for a rollout in June.

In a statement released by the country’s Ministry of Transportation and Telecommunication, Bahrain announced itself as a contender to set the 5G pace, while outlining aims to emerge as the Gulf’s leading technology test-bed.

The ministry said all policy hurdles for 5G implementation had been resolved while licensing and spectrum allocation is set to be finalized by mid-April.

Operators completed all the necessary 5G trials in June 2018, the ministry added. With all the pieces in place, it said a June rollout would be achieved, pending availability of consumer handsets and equipment.

Notably, while the US and Asia gather the majority of the headlines for being 5G pacesetters, it was in the Middle East, and specifically the UAE, where operators claimed to have launched 5G first, through fixed wireless access in May 2018.

Signal to the world
The ministry pointed out that Bahrain ranked first in the region in the ITU’s ICT development index for the last five years, and fourth globally in the UN’s telecoms infrastructure index in 2018.

In its statement, the ministry also had a dig at the UK, highlighting how far advanced it was in being ready to pull the trigger on the technology compared to the European powerhouse.

Minister of Transportation and Telecommunications, Kamal bin Ahmed Mohammed said its leadership in 5G reflects Bahrain’s appetite for innovation “and sends a signal to the world that we can be a test-bed for some of the most transformative technologies”.

“There were a lot of hurdles along the way: ensuring spectrum availability as soon as possible was a big challenge, but overcoming these obstacles exemplifies the support and cooperation amongst all stakeholders.”

In an interview with Reuters, Mohammed also confirmed the country’s operators would not be blocked from using equipment made by Huawei in 5G networks, despite US warnings around the company regarding security.

Viva Bahrain, which is owned by STC, signed a deal with Huawei last month to deploy 5G products in its network.―Mobile World Live

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