Urban Transformation

As Dubai switches on its first 5G, what is all the fuss about?

Men work on lights next to a sign for 5G at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Shanghai, China June 25, 2019. Picture taken June 25, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. CHINA OUT. - RC1E14FE6520

296 operators in 100 countries have launched, are testing or trialling, or have been licensed to conduct field trials of mobile 5G. Image: REUTERS/Stringer

Sean Fleming
Senior Writer, Forum Agenda
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5G

Mobile users in parts of Dubai will get their first taste of 5G networking this week. The latest generation of mobile internet technology has been described as "superfast" and promises download speeds far in excess of anything currently available.

But how much of that is hype and how much is true – and what will 5G do for you?

According to the Global Mobile Suppliers Association, there have only been 32 full mobile 5G launches so far. But the number of telecommunications providers working on 5G gives an indication of how seriously the industry is taking the technology.

Have you read?

As of August, 296 operators in 100 countries have launched, are testing or trialling, or have been licensed to conduct field trials of mobile 5G.

In Dubai, UAE telecom provider Etisalat is preparing to switch on its 5G mobile network in the Jumeirah Lakes Towers area.

Elsewhere in the world, South Korea offers one of the most comprehensive 5G coverage networks, while the UK, Germany, and the US offering it in limited areas.

It’s predicted that, by 2025, China will have by far the most 5G connections - with more than a billion, as the chart below shows.

Image: Statista
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What is the Annual Meeting of the Global Future Councils?

The headline figure for 5G is that it will be around 20 times faster than current 4G services. But speed is only one part of the 5G promise.

Developments like automation, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things are already revolutionising machine-to-machine communications. The adoption of 5G will bring about more robust and reliable connections between computers, sensors and robotic devices. The smart city of the future, where autonomous vehicles communicate with traffic lights, road signs and more, will be a more realistic prospect when the technology takes hold.

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