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Qatar and the UAE Face Off Over World’s First 5G Network Deployment

Qatari network operator, Ooredoo, claims to have launched the world’s first 5G network in the 3.5GHz spectrum band.

The network covers parts of downtown Doha, with plans for it to be rolled out across the rest of the Qatari capital in due course.

“Today, Ooredoo and Qatar make history. We are the first company in the world to offer access to 5G technology and services, and the people of Qatar are the first to have access to the incredible benefits this technological upgrade will bring. We dedicate this important milestone to the people of Qatar and to our beloved leaders, who have encouraged this step in building the knowledge-based economy of Qatar,” said Waleed Al Sayed, CEO, Ooredoo Qatar.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, few details have been released about the speed, latency and capacity of Ooredoo’s “5G” network, so we are currently unable to verify the extent to which Ooredoo’s new network can be truly called 5G.

There is also the issue of handset compatibility to consider. Ooredoo states that “Access to the Ooredoo 5G Supernet will require a 5G compatible device from Ooredoo”, however, at the moment, no such devices exist.

UAE

Abu Dhabi based telco Etisalat is also claiming to have launched the world’s first commercial 5G network, according to a report in the Gulf News.

“5G stands out as a game-changer with rich potential, an evolution that would elevate services, performance, and enablement. It is the natural progression as part of our network modernisation journey, the anticipated technical specifications are promising, bringing along various desirable features and functionalities,” Saleh Al Abdooli, CEO, Etisalat Group, said in a statement.

Once again, details of the network’s specifications are sketchy at best, so verifying its 5G credentials is a little difficult. However, in a live demonstration, Etisalat showcased downlink throughput of more than 5Gbps on the site level and more than 1.5Gbps on a commercial device.

Suffice it to say that while both operators have demonstrated the lightning fast potential of 5G services with some very interesting deployments, neither has managed to launch a comprehensive, commercialised 5G network – yet!  – Total Telecom

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