Ericsson won the rights to build Zain Bahrain’s 5G network, with the operator aiming to launch the technology by the year-end to advance a goal of delivering a digital society in the nation.

In a statement, Ericsson said the deal covers provision of 3GPP standards-based 5G hardware and software, including massive MIMO solutions. Also included is its Cloud Packet Core and VoLTE products.

Zain Bahrain chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Ali Al Khalifa (pictured, front, right) said the deal is a “major milestone” for both companies: “5G is expected to be the connectivity infrastructure that will foster industrial and societal transformation”, he said, citing opportunities in the automotive, health and energy sectors.

In October, Zain Group staked a claim to the largest 5G deployment in the region when it lit a network in Saudi Arabia, its second market after Kuwait where the technology is live.

Ericsson stated the Zain Bahrain deal adds to more than 70 commercial 5G contracts inked with global operators, of which 23 are live.