Mobile operator MTN has launched its commercial 5G network in South Africa, which will provide customers with access to the new service in over 100 sites across the country.
The telecommunication company is stepping up its digital revolution with the next generation of mobile technology, which promises to bring about “exponential improvements” to the country’s economy, according to MTN.
During the company’s live-streamed launch event, MTN South Africa CEO Godfrey Motsa said: “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.”
The launch of the network is due in part to SA telecoms regulator ICASA’s allocation of temporary spectrum, which currently covers specific parts of Johannesburg, Cape Town, Bloemfontein, Port Elizabeth, Durban and other smaller cities and towns.
Giovanni Chiarelli, MTN South Africa’s chief tech and information officer, said: “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. One of the key innovations driving the broad roll-out by MTN has been a strategic approach to dynamic spectrum sharing, as these deployments overcome the challenges of lack of dedicated 5G spectrum.”
According to the company, the regulator had allowed certain telcos additional spectrum in order to aid South Africans during the Covid-19 pandemic that has gripped the country tighter than any other in Africa. MTN’s 5G service runs on four spectrum bands, making it easier for network technology to migrate from older tech to 5G as well as cover smaller towns and rural areas.
Since the advent of cloud-based game-streaming, the main drawback for platforms in South Africa was always connection speeds. “Cloud gaming will do to gaming what video-on-demand has done to TV; it’s a complete game-changer only this is a game-changer that will be delivered by 5G,” the company said during its launch event.