The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) hosted the inaugural the Fifth Generation (5G) forum meeting from 1-2 November 2017 in Sandton, with government, institutions of higher learning, research institutions, and industry players all discussing the future of 5G in the country.
5G generally refers to technologies that provide services with extremely low latency of less than 1ms, download data speeds of more than 10 Gbps, vast connectivity, high mobility and extremely low energy consumption.
A number of topics and discussions centred around typical use cases that 5G could be applied to, the radio-frequency spectrum that would be required, as well as the role that standards could play in making 5G services effective and purposeful.
According to industry experts, standardisation bodies are currently working with operators, vendors and industries, and aim at the commercial launch of 5G around 2020 and beyond.
However, Icasa warned that 5G was not officially standardised in South Africa yet, with the forum aimed at building minimum technical performance requirements and evaluation guidelines for the new technology.
Icasa said it was also awaiting international developments with regards to global standards, as well as the identification of harmonised spectrum for operation on a global/regional
It indicated that these guidelines will allow it to qualify 5G technology in terms of international regulations by 2020, at which point it will be qualified for an industry, be named, and only then become available for official usage.
“Icasa’s interest in 5G technologies stems from the belief that ultimately all the people of South Africa should have access to 5G, which is an all embracing technology that would offer much more scope, in a manner that would enable automation of device and machine use, through the concept of the Internet of Things (IoT),” it said.