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4G tipped to remain top mobile tech in MENA

LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE 360 MENA, DUBAI: GSMA Intelligence (GSMAi) noted while 5G launches are making headlines on a regular basis, the technology would likely remain a long-term play in Middle East and North Africa (MENA), with 4G tipped to continue growing over the next few years.

In its The Mobile Economy: Middle East and North Africa 2019 report, the GSMA’s analyst arm noted 4G would surpass 3G as the region’s most-dominant technology in 2021 and maintain this position for the foreseeable future.

The technology became the region’s second-most used earlier this year when it surpassed 2G, leaving it behind only 3G in terms of prominance. In the report, GSMAi wrote adoption of 4G is being “driven by coverage expansion and operator efforts to migrate 2G and 3G users” to the later technology.

“However, device affordability remains a concern for many consumers in low-income brackets,” the analyst group warned.

By 2025, 4G is expected to account for just over half (52 per cent) of the region’s 722 million mobile connections, up from around a third in 2019.

In contrast, there are expected to be 45 million 5G connections across the region at the same point, accounting for 6 per cent of total mobile connections.

[1]GSMAi noted the majority of 5G launches in MENA are still a few years away, although coverage will rise steadily in the period to 2025 (see image left, click to enlarge).

To date, all 5G launches in MENA have taken place in five GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) Arab States (twelve operator launches in total across Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE).

“The 2020s will see 5G activities become more widespread across the region, with trials and commercial launches expected in non-GCC countries,” particularly Egypt, Morocco and Turkey, the research group added.


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