MEA region to wait longer for 5G: ITU chief

UN telecoms watchdog does not expect next-gen infrastructure adoption by 2020
Touré: When people do a mega investment, they need to depreciate it, so you don’t change from 4G to 5G immediately.
Touré: When people do a mega investment, they need to depreciate it, so you don’t change from 4G to 5G immediately.

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The secretary-general of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Hamadoun Touré, believes 5G will not be deployed in the region by 2020. “You cannot predict it, 2020 is a long way,” he said.

During an interview with CommsMEA, Touré said “When people do a mega investment, they need to depreciate it, so you don’t change from 4G to 5G immediately. I think that we have to balance.”

“LTE and 4G are still being tested,” he said. The secretary-general thinks that LTE has “all the characteristics that we are looking for in terms of high speed, bandwidth, but also, most importantly, the low latency. Some people have 4G LTE but they don’t have the low latency requirement that we [ITU] have and also the way that it has been done enables also a more efficient use of the spectrum. To reach the same speed you need a lower bandwidth. That is a thing that needs to be put in place.”

He also said some companies will say LTE flexibility helps to develop 5G.

Regarding the challenges that LTE brings to the region, Touré said, “Every technical problem has a solution, but there are political problems that don’t necessarily have a solution.”

ITU proposes global standards for the telecommunication market in order to harmonise the sector. In the Middle East and Africa region, ITU has asked for frequency harmonisation as some networks are allocated in different frequencies, impeding the harmonisation that this sector requires. 

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