Bahrain’s nationwide 5G roll-out to spark next-gen tech opportunities
Bahrain has achieved full national 5G coverage, according to Bahrain’s Ministry of Transportation and Telecommunications, as two of three mobile operators have achieved full coverage to the Kingdom’s population, sparking a new wave of opportunities for streaming, gaming and supply chain technologies. Bahrain has long been considered a strategic base for tech firms to launch data-driven services in the Gulf region, with Amazon Web Services launching the region’s first hyper-scale data centre in the Kingdom last year.
All of the Middle East nation’s 1.5 million population are now able to access the high-speed service, and investment experts hope that the roll-out will attract other heavyweight tech firms in the post-COVID era, as companies look to make full use of the wide promise of next generation technologies across a wide variety of applications.
Bahrain’s telecoms sector attracted some BHD 787 million in investments (more than 2 billion US dollars) between 2009 and 2019. In line with ambitious economic diversification efforts, the Kingdom’s ICT sector now accounts for nearly three per cent of national GDP.
Rapid progress on 5G is also being made across the region as the Gulf digitises.
H.E. Engineer Kamal bin Ahmed Mohamed, Bahrain’s Minister of Transportation and Telecommunications said, “We are continually striving to ensure that the Kingdom of Bahrain maintains its position among global leaders in this crucial sector. This includes ensuring availability and deployment of commercial 5G services and enhancing readiness for next generation ICT services such as the Internet of Things and Machine-to-Machine communications.
He said that this important milestone is also testament to its strength as a regional and global ICT leader. Moreover, it is a clear indication that the country’s ongoing national digital transformation and Bahrain’s Economic Vision 2030 strategies are on track.
“Both prioritise strong ICT infrastructure to support the growth of our digital economy while enhancing Bahrain’s readiness to harness innovation.” He added, “We are confident that our potential to generate, use, and ultimately export innovation will be pivotal for the growth and diversification of our economy towards high value-added sectors such as content development and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Rapid access to information is essential to innovation, particularly for next-generation services. In this way, 5G is a crucial step in Bahrain’s ongoing transition from net consumer to net producer of technological innovation.”
His Excellency also mentioned the importance of strengthening smart telecommunications infrastructure as well as the creation of regulation that would encourage innovation and investment in the sector. Today, the Kingdom of Bahrain is one of the first countries in the world to provide complete 5G services. He also praised the prominent role played by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority in creating an attractive regulatory environment and the telecommunications companies for bringing the sector in line with the digital era via implementation of the latest methods and technologies.
Researchers estimate that there will be more than 1 billion 5G connections by 2023, and Bahrain’s nationwide roll-out places the Kingdom at the forefront of this global technological advancement for both B2B and B2C applications.
The Kingdom has pursued a strategy of agile and flexible regulation to encourage innovation and investment in the telecoms sector. Bahrain was the first GCC member to open and liberalise its telecoms market, which remains one of the region’s only telecoms markets with no restrictions on VoIP services.