Industry Thought Leadership

5G Ecosystem and Digital Interdependence

August, 2021
Fahad Al Ali
Chief Technology Officer

stc Kuwait

5G will bring major social and economic value for citizens and national industries, in return allowing significant city transformational gains from the delivery of ultra-high speed, low latency, and flexibility provided by the 5G network. The United Nations High Level Panel on Digital Cooperation’s launch of a new tech report in 2019 focused on faster digital cooperation in the “Age of Interdependence”. The digital cooperation involves not only governments, but a far more diverse spectrum of other stakeholders such as civil society, academics, technologists, and the private sector. Their role is to take significant steps toward rapidly transforming society and creating opportunities by the application of digital technologies1. Analysys Mason projected that 5G will enrich the economy and provide social benefits in Kuwait by generating a cumulative increase of more than USD1.0 billion in GDP during 2018–2025 – that is roughly around 0.09% of the cumulative total GDP of Kuwait over the same period (USD1.1 billion). The spread of digitalization in Kuwait has a potential of translating to 25,000 added jobs and delivering wide-ranging benefits through enhanced access2.

stc, along with the government and other key stakeholders in Kuwait’s telecom value chain, have been keen to launch 5G as early as 2019 in certain areas, while providing national coverage later on in the same year3. stc's 5G infrastructure possesses the capability of supporting the national vision of diversifying the economy away from oil dependency by digitally accelerating private sector growth, enabling innovation, stimulating competition, and boosting production efficiency. The Company has been working on shaping relevant 5G eco-system technology movements, in line with Kuwait's 2035 vision to maintain a cutting-edge 5G infrastructure in its telecoms market. This vision will lead the eco-system build, while sparking a competitive environment in relation to human capital with the aim of transforming Kuwait into a financial and trade hub, both regionally and internationally. The objective of this movement is to distinguish Kuwait as an attractive location for investors in the long term4.

stc has been keen to accelerate digitalization usage by democratizing 5G to help consumers, as well as various public and private enterprises of all sizes, gain affordable access with ease to a wide range of digital services. Access to these solutions is made available through different types of 5G compatible devices at a range of prices, along with 5G enabled mobile and internet packages at competitive rates. Efforts of accelerating 5G development have been implemented by introducing competitive offerings through 5G mobile internet packages that include:

  1. Special discounts for early adopters of 5G who subscribed at the launch in May 2019
  2. Unifying all 4G and 5G plans and prices,
  3. Upgrading legacy plans to 5G free of charge,
  4. Handpicked and offered only the best 5G devices for best customer experience

It is evident that the 5G experience paves the way for new immersive mobile experiences, combining 360° cloud-based Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), enhanced consumer everyday communication, 4K/8K ultra-high-definition (UHD) entertainment, content and cloud gaming, access to everyday online education, distance learning, and training or telemedicine services to manage distance work in aid of high quality streaming of collaborative applications without experience interruption.

Aside from the consumer market, stc has been working on building a new 5G ecosystem with the collaboration of different 5G value chain players to embrace all industry sectors of the Kuwait economy, and provide more accessible 5G to different verticals. This will open a world of possibilities for all sectors, including education, industry, healthcare, media, transportation, and utilities. stc has been participating in delivering 5G connectivity enhancements in response to enterprise demand. The Company has also been supporting the government in improving fixed broadband penetration, especially for enterprise segments, across Kuwait with the aid of complementary Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) capability of 5G, such as:5

  1. 5G Dedicated Data Access (DDA) connecting locations, providing services, and dedicating reliable speeds up to 50 Mbps
  2. Dedicated Internet Access (DIA) obtaining internet speeds up to 100Mbps
  3. Dedicated Access Backup Solution with a constant speed that can provide a dedicated connection to any location with different speeds as an alternative support for a primary connectivity type.

stc also has taken a co-innovation approach with local & international businesses to develop the future utilization of 5G. The Company is only at the beginning of the 5G journey which will evolve into the introduction of new digital products and solution inspired and developed based on 5G technology. Some of which include:

  1. A 5G deep coverage solution over Sub-3Ghz spectrum bands (i.e. 2.1Ghz) to allow smoother access to Voice over 5G NR (VoNR) collaborative applications, 5G Carrier Aggregation (CA) services and mass deployment for Internet of Thing (IoT), as well as Machine-to-Machine (M2M) services.
  2. Implementation of 5G Standalone (5G SA) architecture, a native cloud connectivity-supported & secured platform, and Advanced Business Support Systems to empower Edge Native Cloud that enables service aggregation near subscriber premises, enterprise campus scenarios, real-time data processing in industrial control, autonomous driving, and offering innovative Network-as-a-Service model capable of integrating with different 3rd parties APIs, and utilizing DevOps Tools to suit wide-ranges of industry transformations.
  3. Nevertheless, multiple innovative industry applications have been made by stc in collaboration with the 5G ecosystem partners. For example, Cloud CCTV, Cloud PBX, 5G SmartBus, Smart Education/Virtual VR Classrooms, advanced drone solutions for security and surveillance, and Cloud Call Center solutions . 5G enterprise solutions target enabling secure & smart city services to citizens, and assist verticals in innovating and generating new businesses in untapped markets.

    Meanwhile, stc has been sponsoring key business-to-business (B2B) events to create a platform for helping small and medium enterprises grow and develop their projects, businesses and facilitate their digital transactions. The Company aims to create an interactive environment and highlight the commercial exchange opportunities between enterprises and leading companies in the private sector, including the enterprises amongst themselves. This serves as a key factor that encourages the exchange of knowledge, innovative tactics and provides the best offers to project owners.

    stc’s goal is to cooperate with key 5G eco-system owners and build a collaborative environment with the private and public sectors to motivate the development of 5G usage cases, enable entrepreneurial digital markets, and explore multi-sided business models capable of delivering smart city services to citizens in line with Kuwait 2035 vision.