Ooredoo taps up Nokia for private 5G push

Qatar-based Ooredoo has joined forces with Nokia to help it crack the private 5G market.

Nick Wood

April 29, 2024

3 Min Read

The two have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), under which they will jointly develop and deploy networks, and create a portfolio of market and enterprise-specific solutions that can be tailored to clients' individual requirements.

The official announcement is light on detail when it comes to the specifics of these upcoming solutions, but does make mention of ultra-reliable, low-latency comms, and enhanced IoT connectivity.

"This partnership marks the beginning of a collaborative effort to build capabilities and develop a pipeline for future opportunities in the 5G enterprise domain," said Najib Khan, Ooredoo's chief business services officer.

Indeed, while Ooredoo offers various business services – including fixed and mobile connectivity, cloud, security and IoT – across a footprint that stretches throughout the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and into Asia, private cellular networks isn't currently among them.

However, under its strategic plan, Ooredoo is in the process of ramping up its enterprise activities – namely carving out its data centre and fintech operations into distinct divisions.

It is investing $1 billion to develop its data centres into carrier-neutral cloud platforms, while on the fintech side of things, Ooredoo Financial Technology International (OFTI) has been established as a wholly-owned holding company for the telco's fintech businesses, beginning with its home market of Qatar, and the Maldives.

Private 5G connectivity and related services and infrastructure – such as edge hosting – promises to add yet another new string to Ooredoo's B2B bow, and a lucrative one at that.

According to Analysys Mason, global spending by enterprises on private cellular networks will reach $9 billion a year by 2028 – up from $1 billion in 2022 – led by the manufacturing, transport and mining sectors. The research firm said that equates to less than 5% of spending on public cellular networks, leaving plenty of headroom for future growth.

Separate figures shared by Dell'Oro earlier this month showed that private cellular RAN revenue grew 40% in 2023, and now accounts for around 2% of the overall RAN market. In addition, ABI Research reckons the global private cellular networking market will be worth $82 billion by 2030, up from $6.1 billion in 2023.

Meanwhile, for Nokia, the MoU with Ooredoo came on the same day that it announced a cloud interconnect deal with e& UAE, and underscores its ongoing progress in the Middle East.

This time last year, the Finnish kit maker secured nationwide 5G deals with both Zain and Orange in Jordan. And last March, it was chosen by Ooredoo to deploy 5G-ready networks in Algeria and Tunisia.

The Middle East and Africa (MEA) was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise fairly dismal first quarter for Nokia – revenue there grew 8% year-on-year. Along with Europe – where the top line surged by 25% – it was the only region in Nokia's footprint to report an increase.

While this MoU with Ooredoo won't dramatically shift the needle for Nokia in the Middle East, it won't hurt to have another sales channel for its private networking business.

About the Author(s)

Nick Wood

Nick is a freelancer who has covered the global telecoms industry for more than 15 years. Areas of expertise include operator strategies; M&As; and emerging technologies, among others. As a freelancer, Nick has contributed news and features for many well-known industry publications. Before that, he wrote daily news and regular features as deputy editor of Total Telecom. He has a first-class honours degree in journalism from the University of Westminster.

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