The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is throwing its hat into the 5G ring, claiming that it will be the first country to deploy the future wireless technology nationwide.
"We are ready to take the big leap into the future of the telecom industry with the UAE becoming the world's first nation to roll out the 5G network," Ahmad Julfar, CEO of Etisalat , said this week at a GSM Association (GSMA) event in Dubai.
The nationwide deployment of the 5G network will be hung around the Expo 2020 event in Dubai, which starts in October 2020. Etisalat has a 5G development deal in place with Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC).
The 5G specification hasn't yet been set in stone, but the end result is expected to be a wireless system that's tens of times faster than current 4G networks, offering gigabit-per-second download speeds over the air. For the consumer, this would mean that an HD movie could be downloaded to a compatible 5G smartphone. (See Ericsson CTO: Artificial Intelligence Will Make 5G Smarter.)
All of this is at least a few years in the future, but that isn't stopping Asian and other operators from racing to be the first with some kind of 5G deployment. NTT DoCoMo Inc. (NYSE: DCM) is plotting a 5G deployment for the Summer Olympics in Tokyo in July 2020. SK Telecom (Nasdaq: SKM) in South Korea is also eyeing a 2020 timeframe for initial deployments. (See SK Telecom: Small Cells Key to 5G and Getting Massive at DoCoMo's 5G Lab.)
Recently, Verizon Wireless has become very aggressive on its 5G timeline. The US operator is plotting 5G field trials in 2016, and there have even suggestions of initial deployments in 2017, which could happen before 5G proofs-of-concept are completed (See Verizon & Partners to Field Test 5G in 2016.)
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading