Super-fast 5G mobile to launch in Saudi Arabia within months

Saudi Arabia has about 1,000 telecoms towers already supporting 5G and the super-fast mobile services will be available within months, a senior government official said. (AFP)
Updated 06 April 2019
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Super-fast 5G mobile to launch in Saudi Arabia within months

  • Next-generation networks will allow smartphone users to download a movie in seconds
  • Uptake of the technology expected to add $19 billion to Saudi Arabia GDP

DEAD SEA, Jordan: Saudi Arabia has about 1,000 telecoms towers already supporting 5G and the super-fast mobile services will be available within months, a senior government official said.
The next-generation networks will allow smartphone users to download a movie in seconds.
But the technology is more geared toward industry, said Haytham Al-Ohali, vice minister at Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Communications & Information Technology.
“We currently have around 1,000 towers up and running 5G,” Al-Ohali told Arab News at the World Economic Forum in Jordan.
“Our operators need to put the financial packages together — and having the handsets available, that would help.”
Al-Ohali said he hoped 5G will be launched in Saudi Arabia “either toward the end of Q2, or early Q3 this year.”
The uptake of the technology is expected to add $19 billion to Saudi Arabia’s gross domestic product, and 20,000 jobs, by 2030.
While 5G will be available to consumers, its real use is for technologies like driverless cars and in machine-to-machine communication, Al-Ohali said.
“Downloading a movie in four seconds is not the promise of 5G … 5G is the first network that’s not built for the consumer. It’s built for machines, it’s built for industry,” he said.
“I think (consumers) will love the extra speeds that 5G brings, but in a country where 4G is very robust like Saudi Arabia, and provides good speeds — currently Saudi Arabia is ranked ahead of the UK and Japan in terms of 4G speeds — I don’t think that increment is really worth the investment from the operators. What I think the promise is, is industry, machine-to-machine.”
The vice-minister said Saudi Arabia is in talks with industry groups over the prospect of 5G use for digitization within factories, and is also studying its use in health and education.
Nations globally are racing to develop 5G networks, an issue complicated by US concerns over the security of equipment produced by Chinese telecoms manufacturer Huawei.
Al-Ohali said that any company meeting security requirements was welcome to do business in the Kingdom.
“Like any other technology … in Saudi Arabia, there are certain security requirements. We welcome any vendor who complies to come and operate in Saudi Arabia,” he said.
Al-Ohali earlier addressed the World Economic Forum during a panel discussion with Rafiah Ibrahim, head of Ericsson in the Middle East and Africa.
“It is the fastest-growing region when it comes to Internet use,” Ibrahim said.


Ryanair posts weakest annual profits in four years

Updated 9 min ago
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Ryanair posts weakest annual profits in four years

  • The airline posted a profit after tax for its financial year to March 31 of $1.14 billion
  • Several rivals in recent weeks have warned of a worse trading environment

DUBLIN: Ryanair posted its weakest annual profit in four years on Monday and said earnings could fall further next year as Europe’s largest low-cost carrier grapples with overcapacity, Brexit and delays in delivery of the Boeing 737 Max.
The airline posted a profit after tax for its financial year to March 31 — excluding startup losses at its Laudamotion unit — of $1.14 billion (€1.02 billion), down from €81.45 billion in the previous year.
The company had forecast a profit of between €1 billion and €1.1 billion, and a company poll of over 10 analysts published ahead of the release had forecast €1.03 billion.
Profit for the year to March 31, 2020 including Lauda could be between €750 million and €950 million, it said. Profit including Lauda’s exceptional losses this year was €880 million.
Ryanair said its fares for six months to the end of September were lower than last year and expected the trend to continue, although it said it had no visibility for the second half of its financial year.
Several rivals in recent weeks have warned of a worse trading environment — partly due to overcapacity and partly because European travelers are holding off booking their summer holidays for fear of how the Brexit process will pan out.
Ryanair’s shares closed on Friday at €10.81, down over 40 percent from a peak of €19.39 18 months ago, before the airline was hit by a wave of industrial unrest, weakness in European short-haul fares and the grounding of the Max.
Ryanair had cut its profit forecast for the year to March 2019 by around a fifth in two profit warnings between October and January, blaming strikes, higher oil prices and overcapacity in Europe.