Bahrain achieves nationwide 5G coverage

11 January 2021 | Melanie Mingas

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The Gulf kingdom of Bahrain has achieved full national 5G coverage, with two of its three mobile operators now offering services across the country.

Confirming the milestone, the Ministry of Transportation and Telecommunications said Bahrain is "one of the first countries in the world to provide complete 5G services".

Between 2009 and 2019, Bahrain's telecoms sector attracted investments worth more than US$2 billion, with the increased activity pushing the ICT sector to contribute as much as 3% towards national GDP.

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.

“This important milestone is also testament to our strength as a regional and global ICT leader. Moreover, it is a clear indication that our ongoing national digital transformation and Bahrain’s Economic Vision 2030 strategies are on track. Both prioritise strong ICT infrastructure to support the growth of our digital economy while enhancing Bahrain's readiness to harness innovation," he continued.

Praising the regulatory environment, Mohamed went on to highlight that Bahrain was the first GCC member state to open and liberalise its telecoms market. Today it remains one of the region’s only telecoms markets with no restrictions on VoIP services.

He added: “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 (AI). 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.”

With a population of 1.5 million, Bahrain's digitalisation has gained pace in recent years and, in 2020, the country became home to the region’s first hyper-scale data centre when AWS launched services.