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SAMENA Telecommunications Council's recent participation in a special multi-stakeholder workshop on 5G spectrum management, organized by the Communications and Information Technology Commission of Saudi Arabia (CITC) and GSMA, and attended by the Kingdom’s mobile network operators, STC, Zain and Mobily, has further articulated the need to take sustainable steps to materialize 5G; to adopt a more collaborative approach for all stakeholders; and to put into effect much-needed public-private partnerships to support 5G deployment. These critical steps will assist in ensuring that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, under the leadership and regulatory enablement of the CITC, leads in 5G development and mass-scale deployment in a sustainable manner, with promised benefits delivered to the Saudi citizens and to the Arab region's largest developing digital economy as a whole.
Leveraging its spectrum management knowledge base, SAMENA Council, represented by its Director of Public Policy and Regulatory Affairs, Roberto Ercole, outlined that while the business case for launching 5G in 2019 is challenging, the Council’s Telecom Operator members are indeed very keen to supporting the objectives of CITC with respect to 5G deployment and assisting in the fulfillment of Saudi Vision 2030. Moreover, SAMENA Council is in a position to work closely with stakeholders to help timely realize Saudi Arabia's national vision.
SAMENA Council, in the presentation delivered by Roberto Ercole to the delegates and participants of the CITC workshop, emphasized on the need to harmonize the 2.6 GHz band and also acknowledged that Saudi Arabia has made very good progress with most of its neighboring countries to agree an all-TDD (time division duplex) band plan (3GPP Band 41). SAMENA Council expressed its full support to such spectrum harmonization initiatives, and extends its knowledge and strategic support to further advancing spectrum planning and harmonization in the SA-ME-NA region. A similar approach, SAMENA Council believes, could assist in the harmonization of the 3.3 - 3.8 GHz band (C-band); a critical step for moving forward with 5G deployments in the region. Notably, in view of spectrum harmonization efforts underway among regulators, with private-sector industry bodies endeavoring to support such efforts, during the 24th Arab Spectrum Management Group (ASMG) meeting recently held in Jordan, chaired by TRA-UAE, with participation of 14 Arab countries, a historic consensus has been achieved that 3.3 - 3.8 GHz will be the band of choice for the early deployment of 5G IMT systems in the Arab world.
The CITC-led workshop provided an important opportunity for GSMA, SAMENA Council and Telecom Operators, to voice their support to the public-policy mission set forth by CITC to launch 5G services in the Kingdom in 2019. The workshop also allowed SAMENA Council to share pertinent technical, Saudi-specific spectrum management information with the participants. SAMENA Council's Chairman, Eng. Nasser Al-Nasser, and CEO & Board Member, Mr. Bocar BA, extend their gratitude to CITC Governor, HE Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Ruwais, for the opportunity to represent Telecom Operators through a detailed technical presentation and to closely communicate with the Saudi telecom regulatory authority.
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