Vodacom launches 5G in South Africa-mobile and fixed wireless services

by Paula Gilbert, Editor, Connecting Africa

Vodacom has officially launched 5G in three cities in South Africa, as promised earlier this year.

Vodacom increases the capacity of its South African network ...

Johannesburg-headquartered Vodacom said in an emailed statement on May 4th that it had switched on its live 5G mobile network in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town – with further rollouts planned for other parts of the country.

The network is intended to support both mobile and fixed wireless services and is currently available on 20 live 5G sites, 18 of which are in Gauteng and two in the Western Cape.

“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,” said Vodacom Group’s CEO, Shameel Joosub.

Vodacom was recently assigned temporary spectrum by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) for the duration of South Africa’s national state of disaster, including 50MHz in the 3.5GHz band, which has been used to fast-track its 5G launch.

Joosub said the temporary spectrum has already mitigated the network congestion Vodacom experienced during the five-week lockdown period in the country.

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From Vodacom’s press release:

Vodacom is currently offering the following 5G enabled devices, which customers can use to experience the 5G network within the coverage area of the 20 live sites (listed under Notes to Editors):

  • Smartphones : LG V50 5G smartphone
  • Fixed Wireless Access Routers: Huawei 5G CPE PRO

Customers can check if they are in a 5G coverage area on the Vodacom website (https://www.vodacom.co.za/vodacom/services/internet/5g ). They can then either sign up for a new 5G device deal or upgrade online. The new 5G device will be delivered to the customer’s home during the national lockdown period.

5G improves significantly on 4G in three key areas:

1. Faster speeds:

In comparison to 4G, peak speeds on 5G will increase significantly. 5G will enable fibre-like speeds using the mobile network. This will be extremely useful to download media content like 4K and even 8K movies in seconds. The higher speeds from 5G will also enable entirely new applications in future like augmented and Virtual Reality (VR) which will be helpful to realise new applications such as e-education and also new forms of entertainment like watching a sports game or music concert live in VR from home.

2. Lower latency & better reliability:

Latency is the time it takes for devices to send and receive signals between each other. Latency is very important for applications which require near real time responses, for example, between the user device and a cloud server used in gaming. In comparison to 4G where latencies are typically between 20-30 milliseconds, 5G can support latencies as low as 1 millisecond.

The lower latency from 5G will also enable entirely new applications in future such as remote robotic surgery, where decisions must be made by the remote surgeon and sent back to the surgery robot in near real time.

3. More capacity:

5G networks can also provide much more capacity for data. 5G uses spectrum in a much more efficient manner than 4G technology and is able to fit more data into the same amount of spectrum.

5G devices can connect many more “things” to the network at the same time, enabling the realization of new applications such as smart homes and smart cities. 5G is also more efficient than 4G in terms of the energy required per bit of data which is transmitted or received.

Vodacom was the first network operator to launch a 5G commercial service in Africa in Lesotho in 2018 and was also first to bring 2G, 3G and 4G services to South Africa. The widespread rollout of 5G will support the Government’s 4IR objectives in future, and will facilitate the creation of an entirely new technologically enabled world. 5G supports entirely new applications which will enable a much smarter and more convenient way of both living, working and playing and which current 3G and 4G networks might not be able to support.

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References:

https://www.vodacom.com/news-article.php?articleID=7485

http://www.connectingafrica.com/author.asp?section_id=761&doc_id=759371&_ga=2.145814839.2035355091.1588607301-1355717428.1587424663