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Will 5G Bring Economic Growth?

Charbel Cordahi, CFO of Touch Lebanon, warns that whilst it will transform lifestyles, the economic growth that will accompany 5G will be limited.

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What are your predictions for the MENA telecoms industry in 2018? How do you see the 5G timeline progressing?

Consolidation will continue in the MENA telecoms sector in 2018 with more operators partnering, acquiring, or merging with, other players in the technology, media and telecommunications sectors. In the MENA market, and aside from a few operators looking to be on the forefront of innovation and development, most of the telecom operators will pursue the deployment of their LTE networks and/or the expansion of their 3G networks. However, MENA telecoms players are not ignoring the 5G case; in fact they are considering the future deployment of the 5G and setting the scene for it by expanding their current LTE capabilities (a pre-requisite for future 5G deployment).

How strong is the business case for 5G in the MENA region?

The business case for the 5G in the MENA region will become stronger with time, i.e. simultaneously to the introduction of new services and products. Augmented reality, machine to machine, internet of things, deep geographical coverage, digital media, machine learning, wireless home internet, telemedicine, autonomous vehicles, etc. will attract more customers. Operators will need to cater for such needs and lucrative opportunities by upgrading their networks to the 5G.

What do you think will cause the most disruption in the telecoms industry over the next 5 years?

Digital disruption, technological disruption (analytics, artificial intelligence …), absence of a strategic vision, and lack of capabilities or resources to satisfy growing customer needs (data, new services, coverage, speed, etc.) will cause the most disruption in the telecoms industry over the period 2018-2023.

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What will be your key message at 5G MENA 2018?

Whilst I will agree with the experts present at the Forum that 5G will change our way of life (by enabling all the new technologies that will transform our lives and the future of the humanity), I will stress that economic growth that will accompany the 5G will be limited. Many jobs will be created indeed, but as much will be destroyed. New industry sectors will appear, but others will disappear … Consumers and vendors of 5G and related technologies will be among the winners, but the economy as a whole will benefit marginally. My message will be supported by examples (for instance WhatsApp application serving billions of consumers for free and sold at billions by its owners, but still employing a very limited number of employees …). My other message to the audience will be to stress on the positive impact of the 5G on people’s lives and well-being, and not on the economic output or jobs created. The 5G is not the printing press, is not electricity, is not the internet, and is not the telegraph.

Economic growth that will accompany 5G will be limited. Many jobs will be created indeed, but as much will be destroyed. New industry sectors will appear, but others will disappear

Who are you looking to meet at the event?

I am primarily looking to hear from other experts about the 5G (its return on investment, Capex needs, etc.)

Charbel Cordahi is a member of our LeadersIn 5G community. Read more from our 5G leaders here.

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