5G mobile network in South Africa has been launched by Vodacom in three South African cities, with further expansion planned in other parts of the country. Vodacom has been temporarily assigned additional spectrum by South Africa’s telecoms regulator for the duration of the county’s state of disaster. Vodacom affirms that it has used this to accelerate the 5G launch.
The decision was made in light of the recent spike in online activity from video calling to streaming. A 40% increase in mobile traffic, and a 250% increase in fixed traffic. The deployment of 5G will enable Vodacom to manage the surge in the 5-week lockdowns with greater efficiency.
The company is expected to expand its 5G mobile network in South Africa as products like 5G enabled Smartphones, and fixed-wireless and Wi-Fi access routers become more available. The company is currently selling ‘Huawei 5G PRO’ fixed wireless router and ‘LG V50 5G’ Smartphones.
CEO of Vodacom Shameel Joosub said that the company expected to provide a 5G mobile network in South Africa this year, by using the network being built by another African mobile operator, Liquid Telecom. So far, the cities of Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Pretoria now support mobile and fixed wireless services.
Joosub adds that their 5G launch comes at an important time, as it will enhance their network efficiency in a much-needed lockdown phase. This is largely thanks to the temporary spectrum given by the Independent Communication Authority of South Africa (ICASA). This increase in spectrum helped mitigate the congestion and maintain the quality of broadband services during the lockdown period.
5G mobile network in South Africa is largely unassigned, but the ICASA said that it will be auctioning additional spectrum including 5G by the end of the year. They also stated that the emergency release of this spectrum does not hinder future plans to provide permanent coverage through auctioning.