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Debating whether 5G is an evolution or a revolution took center stage at the 11th Telecom Review Leaders’ Summit where a panel was dedicated to this particular topic along with 5G use cases and expectations for the deployment timeline. Telecom Review had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Mohamed Madkour, VP Global Wireless Networks Marketing and Solutions, Huawei to discuss the Chinese vendor’s approach to 5G in the Middle East.

Dr. Madkour explained why he thinks the fifth generation technology is both an evolution and a revolution and how it is important to continue investing in LTE which will pave the way for 5G deployment, energize carriers’ current and future business prospects

Huawei has been very active in the Middle East and has collaborated with operators in the region to launch 5G so that the region will be among the first in the world to successfully deploy it. Dr. Madkour hailed the efforts deployed by operators who are eager to achieve their 5G and called upon those who haven’t started investing in it to adopt the right strategies and set their 5G goals.

In your opinion, why is Telecom Review Leaders’ Summit important for the telecommunications and ICT industry?

At Huawei, we believe in the power of innovation and collaboration as a fundamental way to get ready for the 5G era. This summit summarizes these two aspects in terms of the innovation and collaboration. A lot of leaders are attending this summit and discussing important topics such as getting ready to 5G, cybersecurity, Blockchain and smart cities. Those topics coupled with the different members of the value chain are what enriches this summit. This is the kind of value we’re looking at to enrich the 5G era, not just for Huawei but for all the operators and enterprises in the Middle East.

At the 11th Telecom Review Leaders’ Summit, you took part in the 5G panel. What were the main points that you highlighted? Can you share your insights on 5G?

The main discussion was about whether 5G is an evolution or a revolution. From Huawei’s perspective, we believe that 5G should seek an evolutionary approach to achieve a revolutionary business target. In terms of infrastructure and networks, it has to be evolutionary

We all know that 5G will not start as a ubiquitous technology, it will provide a spotty coverage. We believe that LTE will play a fundamental role in connectivity even for new applications like IoT, fixed wireless access or even video. It will play an important role for many years to come. Therefore, investment should take a stepwise approach so that we can protect operators’ investment efficiency which will allow them to get ready for 5G.

When it comes to services’ transformation, 5G needs to be revolutionary in terms of how to operate the network and the add-on things like AI and cloud X applications

Every investment in LTE is an investment in 5G and that is what will help operators to early capture 5G-like services and 5G-like experience and evolve with them for years to come.

How is Huawei helping operators in the Middle East to deploy 5G as soon as possible?

The Middle East is one of the leading regions in 5G adoption and according to the GSMA, It is expected that by 2025, 5G will cover 30% of the population and the number of connections will reach more than 50 million.

Huawei has brought its global expertise and readiness for 5G to the Middle East. From an infrastructure perspective, we currently have about 25 contracts globally including 7 contracts in the Middle East in addition to having done more than 15 trials, so we’re providing the cutting-edge technology and innovation regionally here.

From the demand perspective, 5G is not going to happen unless we have the ecosystem. In May 2018, we kicked-off the 5G ecosystem partnership with our partners here in the Middle East. We brought about 50 partners from the IoT and 5G ecosystem in order to explore different use cases, make sure that we know how and where to invest and how to get the value-added services with aim of having a quicker return on investment.

2018 was full of achievements and announcements for Huawei. What should we expect in 2019?

In 2019, we expect to see at least one or two commercial 5G networks running in the Middle East, given how operators are passionate about 5G and investing in it. The demand is there but we are still working with them to partner and collaborate with other parties of the ecosystem to bring in the success in terms of 5G to the Middle East.

One of the first use cases that we’re going to see in the Middle East will be fixed wireless access which is bringing broadband to households and Cloud X will be next.  

In summary, there is no reason for any operator not to start investing or strategizing 5G which can be done from any entry point.

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