South Africa-based telecoms provider Vodacom, has switched on Africa’s first live 5G mobile network in three cities – Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town – with further rollouts planned to other parts of the country.
The network, stated Vodacom, will support both mobile and fixed wireless services and is currently available on twenty live 5G sites, 18 of which are in Gauteng province and two in Cape Town.
According to Vodacom, customers with 5G enabled devices, and within a 5G coverage area, are now able to access one of the fastest and most sophisticated network connections on the African continent.
Vodacom was recently assigned temporary spectrum by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) for the duration of the national state of disaster, including 1 x 50 MHz in the 3.5 GHz band, which has been used to fast-track the 5G launch, the company said. It also makes Vodacom the first operator to activate temporary spectrum in South Africa.
Shameel Joosub, CEO, Vodacom Group, said: “Vodacom’s 5G launch in South Africa comes at an important time as it will help us improve our network efficiency during the COVID-19 national state of disaster. During this difficult and unprecedented period, we are proud to offer world class network technology to South Africa and all of its associated benefits, as we provide an essential service to keep the country connected.”
Joosub added that this is largely due to the allocation of the temporary spectrum by ICASA which has already mitigated the network congestion the company was experiencing since the start of the lockdown period.
Vodacom and Liquid Telecom also concluded managed network services and national roaming agreements for a national 5G network in December 2019.
As a more efficient technology than its predecessors (such as 3G and 4G), the deployment of 5G will help Vodacom manage the 40% increase in mobile network traffic and the 250% increase in fixed traffic experienced during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Vodacom announced in 2018 that it had begun modernising its network to prepare for the deployment of standards based 5G technology in South Africa, subject to the allocation of spectrum. 5G was designed to meet the growing data and connectivity requirements of modern society, as the amount of data traffic is expected to continue growing at exponential rates.
The telco expects to expand its initial 5G rollout as more smartphones, Wi-Fi and fixed wireless access routers become available.