The South African telco said it is ready to launch 5G in its home market once the government assigns spectrum in the 3.5GHz band
South African telecom operator Vodacom Group has launched what it claims to be Africa’s first commercial 5G service in Lesotho, the company said in a statement. The service, which will initially provide fixed-wireless access broadband services to two enterprise customers in Lesotho, will utilize spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band, Vodacom said.
Vodacom Group also announced plans for a broader deployment of 5G technology in South Africa, with downlink speeds in excess of 700 Mbps and latencies of less than 10 milliseconds. The operator said that the service will exceed 1 Gbps as new software versions and devices become available. The telco highlighted that the 5G service will be commercially launched once the 3.5 GHz spectrum becomes available in South Africa.
“Vodacom prides itself on being a market leader and we are extremely pleased to be first to deliver 5G services to customers in Africa. What we’ve accomplished in Lesotho is an example of what can be achieved in Africa, should the requisite spectrum also be made available,” said Shameel Joosub, Vodacom Group CEO.
Vodacom will be able to make 5G services available to its customers in South Africa once requisite spectrum is assigned. Global technological advancements are evolving at a rapid pace and South Africa can’t afford to be left behind, particularly when we look at some of the potential use cases for 5G to support critical sectors of our society such as healthcare and education,” the executive added.
Vodacom Lesotho has been assigned spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band, enabling the launch of a commercial 5G service. Vodacom South Africa has been granted a temporary spectrum license of 100 megahertz in the 3.5 GHz band to showcase the same standards-based 5G network capabilities in this market.
Vodacom said it has deployed massive MIMO technology to provide improved spectral efficiency and coverage, enabling increased network capacity.
In November 2017, Finnish vendor Nokia and South African telecoms operator signed an agreement under which the companies tested 5G technology in South Africa.
Under the terms of the deal, Nokia is working with Vodacom on a series of workshops and trials of 5G technologies, including massive MIMO adaptive antennas, AirScale radio access, AirGile cloud-native core, multi-access edge computing, and end-to-end Mobile Anyhaul transport networks.
Initially the companies focused on the delivery of ultra-HD and virtual reality video services. Additionally, Vodacom and Nokia will also collaborate to understand how 5G technologies can drive continued economic growth in vertical industries important to South Africa including manufacturing, mining, healthcare, media, energy and transportation.
Vodacom, controlled by U.K. telecom group Vodafone, offers telecommunications services in South Africa, Lesotho, Mozambique, Ghana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Kenya.