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Benchmarking the GCC 5G Experience — June 2023

With 5G, users’ experience is considerably better than using older 4G network technology across Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) markets. Across the region average download speeds are between 5.2 times faster (Oman) and an astonishing 10.8 times faster (Kuwait) with 5G compared with 4G. This enormous speed increase is because 5G is able to use new high capacity spectrum bands — such as 3.5GHz — which are not suitable for 4G.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait see the biggest jump across the GCC in video experience using 5G. With mobile video streaming there are also significant increases in every market but the improvement is less marked than it is for speed. In Saudi Arabia and Kuwait the video experience score is 19% higher with 5G. However, in Qatar (9%) and Oman (8%) the improvement drops to a single digit.

In three GCC markets, our 5G users spend more than one fifth of their time with an active 5G connection. Top is Kuwait with a 5G Availability of 39.4%. However, the GCC market with the largest land area — Saudi Arabia with 23.5% 5G Availability — is part of this leading group, an impressive achievement for such a sizable market.

5G speeds continue to be impressive across the GCC. In five of the markets, average 5G download speeds top 200Mbps with only users in Oman missing out. In Qatar average 5G download speeds are even higher at 312Mbps. 5G Peak Download Speeds are even more impressive, with every market seeing peak speeds over 500Mbps and Bahrain topping the region with a 5G Peak Download score of 1163.4Mbps. Upload speeds remain much more modest as operators and network vendors have targeted download for the initial improvements in 5G experience.

Turning to multiplayer gaming, mobile video streaming and real-time voice app communication, the smaller GCC markets again top the 5G tables. Kuwait has the highest 5G Video Experience score (75.9). On the other two measures, Kuwait drops to second. Instead, Bahrain is top for 5G Games Experience (81.4) and also for 5G Voice App Experience (83.2).

Despite the complexity of deploying 5G network technology to a much larger country, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is fourth for 5G Video Experience with a score of 72.5 and is a creditable third for 5G Voice App Experience with 81.3.

Four of the markets rate as Very Good (68-78) for 5G Video Experience: Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This means users are able to stream video at 1080p or better resolution with satisfactory loading times and little stalling. The UAE and Qatar are in the next category, Good (58-68).

As 5G network technology continues to improve, with newer versions of the 5G standards arriving, Opensignal will continue to quantify the extent to which users’ 5G experience changes.