Doha, Qatar-based mobile service provider Ooredoo claims it's the world's first operator to launch a commercial 5G network, having configured its new infrastructure to run on the 3.5GHz band. The service that's live as of Monday covers a stretch between the Hamad International Airport and The Pearl Qatar in the Arabic country, with the company claiming its buildout will continue and extend to more areas in the coming months. Ooredoo called the development "an important technological breakthrough" and a testament to its research and development efforts in the wireless segment.
Ooredoo Qatar CEO Waleed Al Sayed said the firm wants to dedicate the achievement "to the people of Qatar and to our beloved leaders" who are set to benefit from the new network based on the latest 5G New Radio specification. "The 5G Supernet will be the infrastructural backbone of Qatar," the CEO believes, adding that the telecom giant's latest milestone is yet another step in its efforts to support the National Vision 2030 development plan meant to diversify the Qatari economy and ensure its long-term sustainability in a post-oil world. Ooredoo has yet to detail the capabilities of its network, having so far only confirmed the service requires 5G-ready devices that it will start offering to customers in the near future, presumably this summer.
5G deployment endeavors are expected to intensify in the second half of the year, with U.S. operators Verizon and AT&T both vowing to commercialize the next generation of connectivity in the coming months as T-Mobile and Sprint are set to follow suit next year, combined or not. First 5G-ready devices will be offered in the form of "pucks" and routers alongside initial deployment in the West, whereas smartphones capable of utilizing the new standard are expected to become available for purchase in early 2019. Samsung is understood to be aiming for leadership in the segment, with the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10 Plus both being likely to debut as the company's first 5G-compatible Android handsets around the time MWC 2019 takes place.