Bahrain celebrates hitting 100% 5G coverage
Bahrain has announced the completion of its initial 5G rollout, making the Gulf country the first in the region – and one of the first worldwide to experience full 5G coverage.
Steaming ahead of their global competitors, including the UK (which aims to have implemented 100% 5G services by 2027) Bahrain has put ICT development at the forefront of its digital strategy.
Geographically linked to Saudi Arabia by a famous causeway, Bahrain has long been considered a progressive Middle Eastern nation. Despite experiencing some ongoing political conflicts, Bahrain is a stable business hub and its 1.5mn-strong population is now able to access the high-speed service.
According to Bahrain’s Ministry of Transportation and Telecommunications, two of the country’s three mobile operators now have full coverage, prompting a new wave of opportunities for streaming, gaming and supply chain technologies.
Bahrain has long been considered a strategic base for technology companies in the Gulf because of its tolerant stance to foreign nationals. In 2020 Amazon Web Services also launched the region’s first hyper-scale data centre in the Kingdom.
Researchers estimate that there will be more than 1bn 5G connections by 2023. Bahrain's nationwide rollout places them at the forefront of this global technological advancement for B2B and B2C applications.
The Kingdom has encouraged innovation and investment in the telecoms sector and was the first GCC member to open and liberalise its telecoms market. Bahrain is also one of the region’s only telecoms markets with no restrictions on VoIP services.
Local investment experts hope the rollout will attract more heavyweight technology firms companies to Bahrain to make full use of the wide range of next-generation products and services now available.
Bahrain’s telecoms sector attracted an estimated $2bn in investments between 2009 and 2019. In line with ambitious economic diversification efforts, the Kingdom’s ICT sector now accounts for nearly 3% of national GDP.
Bahrain offers internet bandwidth to connect to regional nodes in MENA, Europe, the Americas, Asia, and Australia, with the region's lowest latency. This means speeds are 90-95% faster when hosting the Kingdom.
Meanwhile, rapid progress on 5G is continuing to be made across the Middle East and the Gulf states.
Speaking about the achievement, 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 continued, “Moreover, it is a clear indication that our ongoing national digital transformation and Bahrain’s Economic Vision 2030 strategies are on track. 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.”
He added, “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.”
EDGEMATRIX and NTT DOCOMO deliver AI at the edge
Leading Japanese telecommunications firm NTT DOCOMO, together with startup EDGEMATRIX, is harnessing the power of 5G to support artificial intelligence-enabled video, real-time analytics and, ultimately, the next step in the evolution of the modern smart city.
Founded under the roof of Silicon Valley tech firm Cloudian, EDGEMATRIX has grown into a cutting edge startup based in Japan. NTT DOCOMO has been a shareholder in the company since 2019, having spent the past two years jointly developing and commercialising EDGEMATRIX's revolutionary edge-AI platform using high-speed, high-capacity, low-latency 5G technology. NTT DOCOMO, together with EDGEMATRIX, launched a world-first edge AI platform for intelligent video analytics, enabling high resolution, high security, and real-time video using AI.
Courtesy of EDGEMATRIX
The platform simplifies, manages and oversees the implementation and integration of AI at the edge, which captures, analyses and stores video close to where it is captured in industrial and retail settings, "on location at factories, buildings and other outdoor and indoor locations." The solution is also used in social infrastructure such as roads, railroads, and long-term care facilities for safety monitoring and anomaly detection.
Using Edge AI Box, a compact indoor and outdoor device equipped with a GPU for deep learning-based AI and a communication module (WiFi/LTE/5G) together with various interfaces such as camera connection, it becomes possible to process video streaming from surveillance cameras on-site (at the edge) and in real-time. EDGEMATRIX's Edge AI Boxes can be installed across a site and then monitored using the company's platform. The platform maps the locations of multiple Edge AI Box devices installed on site, monitors their operational status and enables the devices to be controlled remotely.
EDGEMATRIX's customers can use the platform to pruchase additional AI applications from a rapidly-expanding ecosystem which allow them to implement the right solution for the right situation. This simplifies the implementation and upgrade of edge AI for processing and storing video data captured with video cameras at customer premises either outdoor or indoor. Using "Edge View" feature, it is also possible to simultaneously display on the browser a large number of AI-processed real-time videos from the field.
Partnerships like this are key to NTT DOCOMO’s efforts to integrate 5G technologies into the modern enterprise.
Zaif Siddiqi, Executive Director and Global Head of NTT DOCOMO’s 5G & IoT Business Department, comments: “When you're approaching digital transformation, there's more to it than just leveraging cutting edge technologies into new customer experiences.” Unless the needs of the customer, and the underlying market forces at play, can be truly understood, “5G doesn’t mean anything,” he explains, adding that in order to find the right contexts for deployment, “Selection of the right partners is extremely important to delivering on the potential value of 5G.”