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5G MENA 2017, the two-day networking event that gathers all the leading industry players and experts in the MENA region together, hosted its seventh installment in which it discussed the best practices required in relation to developing effective 5G strategies and LTE deployments. The conference which was held in the Dubai World Trade Centre attracted thousands of attendees from the telecommunications and technology sector.

This year's 5G MENA focused on the practical and operational aspects of 5G and LTE deployment in the MENA region, and attempted to take a balanced look at both advanced and emerging markets in the sector with a series of high-quality presentations and panel discussions. In addition to this, the exhibition hall provided attendees with the opportunity to explore some of the world's best technologies not only for 5G, LTE and the Internet of Things, but also for related Cloud Computing developments and next-generation cloud-enabled technologies.

Telecom Review was in attendance throughout 5G MENA, and below is our coverage on some of the most intriguing and fascinating insights and developments that were shared and discussed in-depth over the course of the two-day conference.

In the opening keynote address of the 5G MENA event, Dr. Ayman El Nashar, VP, Core and Cloud Planning, du, delivered a detailed and forensic presentation in which he focused on the 'Journey towards 5G deployment in 2020 and beyond'. In his presentation he outlined some of the developments his organization are currently working on in relation to 5G - and disclosed that they're evolving existing infrastructure in order to facilitate 5G technologies.

Dr. Ayman said: "We're evolving our networks today in order to introduce 5G technologies, as we recognize the incredible opportunities 5G will create, and how it will enhance the services we provide our customers. In addition to this, we're also building virtual cloud networks that will drive innovation."
Dr. Ayman discussed the role du play in the 'smart cities' initiative being deployed in Dubai, and added that as lead partner in the project they were excited about the increased opportunities 5G will provide for this platform. He also revealed that his organization will implement a new IoT platform that will significantly enhance connectivity.

Dr. Ayman added: "We're the leading partner for the 'Smart City' platform, and we're excited about the opportunities this platform will provide, especially with the future emergence of 5G. We've also introduced horizontal IoT platforms which will improve connectivity."

Daisy Chu, VP of Wireless Marketing Operation, Huawei, was next on stage and she outlined the new business opportunities that will be created in the 5G era. She also highlighted Huawei's own vision and strategy towards the implementation of 5G - and proclaimed that '5G is coming for the super-connected world'.

Chu said: "So what is 5G? Over the last number of years we've witnessed continued transformation, 2G was the voice era, 3G was the age of supporting data, 4G was wireless broadband, and now 5G is coming for the 'super-connected' world. By 2025, 5G will generate 12.3 trillion in global economic value which is almost the equivalent of the consumer spend in the US in 2016 alone. The 5G value chain will create 22 million job opportunities by 2030. In addition to this, the 5G value chain will also generate 200 billion every year for further expansion and strengthen the 5G technology base in networks and service application infrastructure."

Chu added that she believed it was imperative that 5G has more vitality, and needs to have a longer life-cycle. However, she conceded in order to do this, the sector requires more vertical industries. Huawei's VP of Wireless Marketing Operation added: "We want 5G to have more vitality, to have a longer life-cycle. However, to support that vision we have to have more vertical industries to use 5G, to use the wireless technologies, but that will not happen overnight. We can't sit and wait for 5G to come - which will still be around 2-3 years, we need to start now."

Chu concluded by claiming that when 5G is eventually implemented that it will perfectly compliment IoT services - and said Huawei would remain dedicated to searching and exploring new ideas as they continue their mission towards the introduction and emergence of 5G technologies. Chu said: "When 5G is introduced, it will undoubtedly provide the perfect platform for IoT services. We will keep exploring new ideas and opportunities on our path towards the introduction of 5G."

On day two of 5G MENA, Zarrar Khan, Chief Technology Officer, VIVA Kuwait delivered a keynote around 'The Road to 5G' and discussed what he felt would be the true impact of 5G - and outlined his roadmap for the development and evolution of 5G and IoT. Khan revealed that VIVA Kuwait were reaching the limits of its 4G capabilities due to a combination of factors which included the mass consumption of data - and a very high smartphone penetration rate in the country.

Khan said: "We're reaching the limits of our 4G capabilities, Kuwait has a very high smartphone penetration rate, and as a result we're consuming vast amounts of data, so 5G is a 'necessity' for us, we need the 5G technologies in order to facilitate demand that 4G will very soon be unable to facilitate."

Khan disclosed that VIVA do not see 5G implementation as a challenge, instead they see it as a huge opportunity for growth, and that the revolutionary technology will provide the organization with many additional revenue channels, including data. He also revealed that the company expects to increase their network capacity significantly over the next three years.

Khan added: "We see 5G as an opportunity, not a challenge. For example, we feel there are so many ways for us to monetize data in the future - and 5G will provide us with so many additional revenue avenues. We expect that we will have to increase our network capacity by 150%-180% over the next three years."

In the final discussion of 5G MENA the panel which focused on 'The economics of 5G - regulation, investment and ROI. Jawad Abbassi, Head of MENA, GSMA, said the Gulf state's will be the first to launch 5G in the MENA region, before suggesting that in order to successfully implement 5G, you need the government to put the correct strategy in place to achieve this goal. He also stated that a clear roadmap is required for spectrum. Abbassi said: "Spectrum is a valuable natural resource, but we need to effectively implement a clear roadmap for spectrum."

Soulhail Haddaji, VP, Transversal Programs Execution, du, said that the UAE leadership has set a vision that goes far beyond 2020, and added that he firmly believes that 5G will have a profound impact on our society and economy. Haddaji said: "The leadership in the UAE has set a vision that goes beyond 2020. It will make the economy 'knowledge based'. I believe 5G is poised to have a profound impact on both our society and economy as we know it."

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