Vodacom says it has switched on what it claims to be Africa’s first live 5G mobile network in three cities – Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town – with further rollouts planned to other parts of the country.
This network, it said in a statement on Monday (4 April), 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.
Vodacom noted that it was recently assigned temporary spectrum by ICASA for the duration of the national state of disaster, including 50 MHz in the 3.5 GHz band, which it said has been used to fast-track its 5G launch.
Vodacom and Liquid Telecom also concluded managed network services and national roaming agreements for a national 5G network in December 2019.
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, it said.
Customers can check if they are in a 5G coverage area on the Vodacom website. They can then either sign up for a new 5G device deal or upgrade online.
The new 5G device will be delivered to the customer’s home during the national lockdown period. For those looking to use Vodacom’s new 5G network, it currently supports the LG V50 5G smartphone and Huawei 5G CPE PRO router.
— Vodacom (@Vodacom) May 4, 2020
5G improves significantly on 4G in three key areas:
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.