MTN has launched its commercial 5G network from it’s birthplace of South Africa, providing access to 100 sites across the country.
The launch, which happened officially on Tuesday, is coming on the heels of the government’s allocation of temporary 5G spectrum to the telecoms company.
The launch culminated from the allocation of the temporary spectrum to MTN by the government and an extensive 5G trials and testing in the country.
“Today, from MTN’s birthplace of South Africa, we are stepping up our digital revolution with the next generation of telecommunication technology, demonstrating to all South Africans that 5G is no longer just an idea – it is here, it works and it has the capacity to bring about exponential improvements to our economy, and to the lives of the people we serve,” says MTN SA’s CEO, Godfrey Motsa.
The 5G network from MTN will serve 100 sites, covering areas of Johannesburg and Cape Town, as well as Bloemfontein and Port Elizabeth.
According to Chief Technology and Information Officer of MTN SA, Giovanni Chiarelli, the telco has been developing innovation around 5G for the past two years.
“For the past two years we have been actively innovating around the potential of 5G, using different bands and various vendors and across different platforms and devices, to ensure MTN South Africa can maintain leadership in 5G, as we have been able to maintain our leadership in 4G.
“Our 5G strategy has been years in the making and we are confident that we have built a strong foundation to grow and support our 5G ecosystem to deliver an exceptional experience for our customers,” he said.
One of the key innovations driving the broad rollout by MTN has been a strategic approach to Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS), as these deployments overcome the challenges of lack of dedicated 5G spectrum.
MTN will deliver 5G connectivity on four different spectral bands: 3.5 GHz at 58 sites; 2100MHz and 1800MHz at 35 sites; 700MHz at 5 sites and 28GHz at 3 sites.
Motsa says MTN’s rollout of its 5G network will be ramped up to even more sites once government allocates permanent spectrum through the planned auction later this year.
“We are extremely encouraged by the release of the temporary spectrum. Our call to the regulator and government is to release permanent 4G and 5G spectrum as a matter of urgency, so that we can fuel the digital revolution our nation needs to bridge the digital divide that currently deepens the gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’,” says Motsa.
“The biggest telecommunication opportunities for the masses of South Africans, are for operators to deliver ultra-fast broadband to townships that continue to be significantly underserved by fixed line fibre services. If the spectrum is made available, the coverage is a given and the affordability can be achieved. Although we are starting relatively small our growth plans for our 5G ecosystem are huge,” Motsa said.
5G, the new generation technology as believed, will unlock the full capabilities of next generation services such as virtual and augmented reality, ultra-high definition video streaming, artificial intelligence, robotics, automated cars, and the Internet of Things (IoT).