Vodacom has become the first network provider to switch on a live 5G mobile network in Mpumalanga province’s Mbombela Municipality in South Africa, with other municipal districts to follow.
In a statement, the mobile operator says the 5G network is currently available on six live 5G sites in the province and supports both mobile and fixed wireless access services.
Vodacom customers with 5G enabled devices, and within a 5G coverage area, are now able to access the new 5G network in Mpumalanga province.
The company says the latest mobile networking technology will ultimately help the region bridge the digital divide between the urban and rural areas of the province by extending access to affordable mobile broadband, especially as an alternative to fibre connectivity in underserviced township areas.
In May 2020, Vodacom switched on South Africa’s first live 5G mobile network in three cities – Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town. This network supports both mobile and fixed wireless services and is currently available in Gauteng and in Cape Town.
Vodacom used the temporary spectrum assigned by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), specifically 1×50 MHz in the 3.5 GHz band to launch the 5G network in Mpumalanga. The company has decided to use the 700 MHz band for wide scale mobile, 5G coverage and is supplementing network capacity with 3.5 GHz where required.
Zakhele Jiyane, Managing Executive for Vodacom Mpumalanga Region said: “My team and I are pleased to become the first network provider to roll-out the fastest and latest, fifth generation (5G) network in Mpumalanga province. This is a full demonstration of our commitment to invest in the latest networks to give our customers access to networks that provide fast speeds.”
“Beyond speed, the biggest benefit of 5G is its low latency, or the short lag time between a device pinging the network and getting a response, meaning a surgeon may not need to be in the same room as a patient in the future to perform critical surgery,” added Jiyane.
Short for the ‘fifth generation’ wireless mobile network, 5G is the newest iteration of our global mobile networking standard. It promises much higher download and upload speeds, lower latency (the time it takes for a connected service to respond to your command) and far greater capacity, speed and increased coverage.
More 5G devices are expected to become accessible to South Africans in future. Already we are seeing the introduction of increasingly cost effective 5G enabled smartphones around the world, not just in the premium segment but also in the mid-tier segment, noted Vodacom.