Vodacom launches Africa’s first live 5G network

Vodacom tech metro africa

Vodacom has launched Africa’s first live 5G mobile network in three cities in South Africa. These are Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town – with further roll outs planned to other parts of the country.

In a statement, the company said the 5G network will support both mobile and fixed wireless services and is currently available on twenty live 5G sites, 18 of which are in Gauteng and 2 in Cape Town. With immediate effect, Vodacom customers with 5G enabled devices, and within a 5G coverage area, are now able to access one of the fastest and most sophisticated network connections in Africa.

The company was recently assigned temporary spectrum by ICASA for the duration of the national state of disaster, including 1 x 50 MHz in the 3.5 GHz band, which has been used to fast-track the 5G launch.

As a more efficient technology than its predecessors (such as 3G and 4G), the deployment of 5G will help Vodacom manage the 40% increase in mobile network traffic and the 250% increase in fixed traffic experienced during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Shameel Joosub, Vodacom Group CEO, said: “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. During this difficult and unprecedented period, we are proud to offer world class network technology to South Africa, and all of its associated benefits, as we provide an essential service to keep the country connected.”

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:

•             Smartphones : LG V50 5G smartphone

•             Fixed Wireless Access Routers: Huawei 5G CPE PRO

Three key areas where 5G has benefits over 4G

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.

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.

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 realisation 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. By Tech Metro Africa