Last year, MTN Group in partnership with Ericsson claimed to have successfully conducted a network trial on 5G in South Africa. Shortly after, the Nigerian unit of the telecom giant hinted at the possibility of having a similar test in Nigeria.
MTN is not the only company trying to start its 5G network roll-out with South Africa. South African data-only network, Rain has revealed that it will start offering 5G commercial service in the country by September 2019.
Rain will be partnering with Huawei, hardware manufacturer, for the devices necessary for consumers to enjoy the services. The announcement was made at the ongoing 2019 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.
The CEO of Rain Group, Willem Roos affirms the company’s optimism regarding the business prospects of the network in South Africa.
As it is, the chances of having a 5G roll-out in South Africa before the end of 2019 just increased. Late last year, Vodacom Group announced using 3.5GHz spectrum band to deliver a standards-based commercial 5G service in Lesotho.
Apparently, the 3.5GHz spectrum band is considered to be optimal for 5G network deployments. South Africa will be one of the first set of countries in the world to have 5G network if any of the companies eventually launch the network in the country.
5G is currently available in some locations in the United States and Canada while its roll-out in South America is expected to happen towards the end of 2019. A handful of areas in North America already have 5G network but it won’t take off in most areas until 2020, same with Mexico.
For Africa, there are concerns about market readiness in terms of infrastructure as well as gadgets. But companies are already building products that come with 5G compatibility. According to a news report, Huawei is showcasing a 5G smartphone and HUAWEI 5G CPE (Customer Premise Equipment) Pro at the ongoing Mobile World Congress.
In the end, it’s going to boil down to countries’ individual readiness as well as companies’ investment capability to fund the necessary infrastructure. Eventually, one of the bases would be the purchasing power of people for 5G devices and its services.