South African operator MTN announced the launch of its 5G network within the country, with the initial deployment of 100 5G sites.
The network currently covers areas of Johannesburg and Cape Town, also as Bloemfontein and Port Elizabeth.
MTN said it had been carrying extensive 5G trials before the launch, which was made possible thanks to the South African Government’s decision to award a temporary spectrum for 5G.
“For the past two years we’ve been actively innovating around the potential of 5G, using different bands and various vendors and across different platforms and devices, to make sure MTN South Africa can maintain leadership in 5G, as we’ve been ready to maintain our leadership in 4G,” said MTN Chief Technology and knowledge Officer, Giovanni Chiarelli.
“Our 5G strategy has been years within the making and that we are confident that we’ve built a robust foundation to grow and support our 5G ecosystem to deliver an exceptional experience for our customers,” said Chiarelli.
MTN also noted that it’s using Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS), as these initial 5G network deployments overcome the challenges of a lack of dedicated 5G spectrum.
MTN said it’s already deployed 58 5G network sites in Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Bloemfontein using the three .5GHz band. The telco also deployed 35 sites using spectrum within the 2,100 and 1,800 MHz bands.
MTN said it’s deployed 5G network sites on 2100MHz in Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth.
The carrier also deployed a complete of 5 5G sites using 700 MHz spectrum in Port Alfred, Hopetown, Virginia Queenstown, and Tsantsabane, while initial 5G coverage in Hatfield (Pretoria), Edenvale and Durban is provided via sites using the 28GHz band.
MTN said that the new network will unlock the complete capabilities of next-generation services like virtual and augmented reality, ultra-high-definition video streaming, AI, robotics, automated cars, and therefore the Internet of Things (IoT).
MTN said it’ll expand its 5G network once the govt allocates permanent spectrum through the planned auction later this year.
“We are extremely encouraged by the discharge of the temporary spectrum. Our call to the regulator and government is to release permanent 4G and 5G spectrum as a matter of urgency, in order that we will fuel the digital revolution our nation must bridge the digital divide that currently deepens the gap between the ‘haves’ and therefore the ‘have-nots’,” said MTN SA’s CEO, Godfrey Motsa.
Rival operator Vodacom launched what it claims to be Africa’s first live 5G mobile network in May this year.
Vodacom’s 5G service is initially available within the cities of Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Cape Town, with additional cities to be reached within the future.
Vodacom said that this network will support both mobile and glued wireless services and is currently available on 20 live 5G sites.