Monday, 20 May 2019

The Maldives: Moving forward to 5G



The Maldives consists of numerous islands with a population of only 360,000. However their telecom market is bolstered by the steady and large influx of tourists. The vibrant tourist sector helps to account for the unusually high mobile penetration rate, though multiple SIM card use is also widely adopted. In addition a large number of expatriate workers require SIM cards on a semi-temporary basis


There are two licensed operators, Dhivehi Raajjeyge Gulhun (Dhiraagu) and Ooredoo Maldives, they have both invested in HSPA and LTE infrastructure, providing coverage to all populated islands.  These developments have encouraged the take-up of mobile broadband services among subscribers. Both operators also provide fixed-line services.


Priority has been given to telecom infrastructure upgrades, with considerable success. There is a well-developed national network, though investment has been concentrated in the capital Malé as well as in the tourist resort islands. The submarine cable connection to Sri Lanka improved international bandwidth and helped reduce access pricing for end-users. A second submarine cable linked the archipelago to India in 2006. Additional cables linking the main atolls has substantially strengthened domestic connectivity.



Dhiraagu is the leading and the largest provider of telecommunications and digital services in the Maldives. It's mostly owned by the Batelco Group from Bahrain and the Government of the Maldives. They have linked the Maldives from north to south through a 1,253 km long fibre optic submarine cable network which supports the nation's largest 3G and 4G/LTE and fixed broadband networks.

4G/LTE started in Male on 1800 MHz (band 3) frequency band and has been expanded in 2015 to a few more islands and the 2600 MHz (band 7). In 2016 they completed a campaign to provide 3G services to 100% of Maldivians on all inhabited islands, and its focus is now on offering nationwide coverage of its 4G/LTE network, which is currently available to 60% of the population. Dhiraagu is aiming to complete the 4G/LTEexpansion project by the end of 2017

Dhiraagu has installed about 35 WiFi hotspots in Male and more in a dozen other islands.
Dhiraagu has also completed the upgrade of the fixed broadband network in Malé, and  trialed 5G services in November 2018.



During the demonstration, Dhiraagu's Senior Manager of Brand, Marketing and Communication Mohamed Mirushan Hassan, initiated the download of a video, comparing the speed of a 5G network, and 4G network on two different screens.


While the 4G network took 11 minutes to complete the download, the 5G network took a mere 30 seconds. With this, Maldives has become the second South Asian country to demonstrate 5G services, with the first being neighbouring India. Mirushan declared that the 5G demonstration was made using the latest state of the art technology available and that showcasing this service is a step forward in Dhiraagu's role in the field of digital technology.


Speaking at the event held at Dhiraagu's head office, CEO Ismail Rasheed stated that 

"5G will increase speed. Without a delay, signals will be transmitted. Dhiraagu always looks at what the customer wants when introducing these services." 
He hoped to increase customer awareness for these technologies through these demonstrations.

According to Dhiraagu, 5G internet speeds will be 10 to 20 times faster than current 4G speeds. Furthermore, the company assured that the 5G network will be easier to sustain during natural disasters. Dhiraagu has made great advances in the fields of internet, communication and other digital services, with initiatives such as Dhiraagu TV and Dhiraagu-Pay. Apart from capital Male', the company has established high-speed internet to 45 islands.

 


Ooredoo was taken over and rebranded 2012 from Wataniya. It's the second mobile provider in the Maldives. LTE has started 2014 on 2600 MHz (band 7) in Male, now available to prepaid customers to be added by 2100 MHz (band 1).

Their coverage is good but not as good as Dhiraagu's, so make a network check before you buy a SIM card. In 2017 LTE coverage has spread to 40 inhabited and resort islands

Ooredoo and Huawei Marine complete nationwide submarine cable project;

Ooredoo Maldives has rolled out 4G network and upgraded its transmission network to full IP.Ooredoo became the first ever operator to provide 4G+ to all the islands of Maldives. In addition to this, Ooredoo also transformed their network to full IP and enhanced the data experience of their customers.


Ooredoo Maldives has also won 5G spectrum licence in February 2018 and showcased their 5G which utilizes internet of things (IoT).


The new revolutionary experience of 5G in 1.8 Gbps speed was showcased in the ‘Color run’ held on 23rd of November, and the service was inaugurated by the Vice President, Honorable Faisal Naseem.


The ‘Color Run‘ was held at Central Park of Hulhumale with over 5000 participants. As there is the fun of color play every 1 kilometer and since they do not hand out awards for those who finish early, this run became an opportunity to promote the fitness of the people and to have fun to the runner’s heart’s content.

Ooredoo proclaims that their companies top the efforts made to form the 5G ecosystem. Their work includes bringing network upgrades that lead to the human development and bring forth a revolution in the experiences that a customer goes through, and that this will prompt extensive inventions in a near future such as cars that run on 5G without drivers, flying taxis and delivery of goods with the use of a drone. 

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