Qatar-based Ooredoo claimed it had become the world’s first operator to deploy a commercial 5G network, representing a “breakthrough” for the industry.

In a statement, the company said it had now launched a live 5G network on the 3.5GHz spectrum band and, in effect, beat rival global operators to the punch.

The first stage of Ooredoo’s 5G Supernet deployment covers an area from The Pearl Qatar island to the Hamad International Airport, with a number of parts of the country also covered as part of the initial commercial launch.

5G devices
However, while the company claimed 5G had now launched in the country, it added in its statement that access to the network “will require a 5G compatible device from Ooredoo”, which are yet to launch.

Presumably, until this happens, Ooredoo’s 5G network will not be accessible by consumers.

When it is usable, Ooredoo’s 5G service will offer New Radio capabilities to provide high speed, capacity and better latency compared to “existing cellular systems”, said the company.

Waleed Al Sayed, Ooredoo Qatar CEO, said the operator and country had made history by becoming the “first company in the world to offer access to 5G technology and services”.

The development follows the activation of Ooredoo’s new 5G Commercial Core Network, occurring “days ago”.

Ooredoo said it had been working on 5G deployment since 2016, and tipped the technology to provide the foundations for new innovations including driverless cars and smart roads, a national fleet of service drones and VR/AR deployment.

Deployments of 5G in the US (from AT&T and Verizon) are also expected at the end of this year, and Qualcomm recently said a handful of smartphone vendors were also aiming to launch 5G-ready devices at the end of this year.