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Mobile networks reveal 5G plans for 2022

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Mobile networks reveal 5G plans for 2022

In less than two years, South Africa’s two biggest mobile network operators have expanded their 5G networks from a few pockets of coverage to numerous cities and towns.

As more smartphones are shipping with support for 5G, mobile customers in South Africa will increasingly demand that their networks support the new technology.

5G offers faster speed, greater bandwidth, and lower latency than 4G/LTE and 3G.

Vodacom was the first to launch a 5G mobile network in South Africa in May 2020.

After initially rolling out to a few select suburbs in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town, its coverage now includes areas in all nine provinces.

The operator would not share any specific target areas for the coming year, but spokesperson Byron Kennedy said its rollout would be based on several factors.

These include relevant use cases, consumer and corporate demands and, most notably, spectrum availability.

“To densify our rollout of 5G services nationally, Vodacom requires access to spectrum,” Kennedy said.

“Further delays in the allocation of spectrum will impact our efforts to accelerate 5G services.”

Kennedy would not delve into specifics on any new noteworthy 5G-related products but said Vodacom planned to launch several “exciting innovations” in this regard in the coming year.

Vodacom also shared a comprehensive list of its 5G sites, which number around 600 at the time of publication.

The list included remote areas such as the Kruger National Park and Robben Island.

Vodacom 5G

MTN executive for corporate affairs Jacqui O’Sullivan said the operator had deployed 820 5G sites in main metros and started rollout in towns in 2021.

It will continue to expand its 5G footprint in 2022, focusing on major metros, towns, townships, and semi-rural areas where there is a major adoption of 5G capable devices.

In concurrence with Vodacom, O’Sullivan also said the upcoming spectrum auction was a major contributing factor to consider.

“Having the appropriate spectrum band will enable mobile operators to deploy 5G adequately,” O’Sullivan said.

Other factors in its rollout plans will include population and smartphone adoption in a particular area.

O’Sullivan added that MTN had modernised its network over the past two years to seamlessly expand 5G in 2022.

Aside from its 5G mobile network, the company also supports 5G on fixed-LTE products in its MyMTN Home and MyMTN Business range.

MTN’s 5G coverage map includes large swathes of 26 cities and towns, which are listed below.

  • Bloemfontein
  • Cape Town
  • East London
  • Ermelo
  • Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth)
  • Hartbeespoort
  • Jeffrey’s Bay
  • Johannesburg
  • Kimberley
  • Klerksdorp
  • Makhado (formerly Louis Trichardt)
  • Makhanda (formerly Grahamstown)
  • Mbombela
  • Middelburg
  • Mthatha
  • Pietermaritzburg
  • Polokwane (formerly Pietersburg)
  • Port Shepstone
  • Pretoria
  • Richard’s Bay
  • Rustenburg
  • Stellenbosch
  • Qonce (formerly King William’s Town)
  • Welkom
  • Witbank
  • White River

The other network operator that offers 5G connectivity in South Africa is Rain.

Unlike Vodacom and MTN, however, Rain’s services are only available on a fixed basis, requiring the customer to keep their router in a single location. Therefore, the network is not supported on any 5G smartphones.

Rain said its plans for the new year include expanding its network, with 15 new towns and cities targeted for rollout in the first half of 2022.

Some of the major cities and towns in which it offers 5G connectivity include:

  • Bloemfontein
  • Cape town
  • Durban
  • East London
  • Emalahleni
  • Gqeberha
  • Klerksdorp
  • Johannesburg
  • Phoenix
  • Pietermaritzburg
  • Potchefstroom
  • Polokwane
  • Pretoria
  • Rustenburg
  • Stellenbosch
  • Strand
  • Soshanguve
Huawei 5G Rain Header

Cell C chief technology officer told MyBroadband it was in discussions with its infrastructure partners and “close” to the implementation of 5G services for its customers.

The operator has been decommissioning its own physical radio network and will have to rely on roaming agreements with Vodacom and MTN to offer 5G.

Telkom did not respond to a request for comment on their 5G plans for 2021.

The country’s third-biggest mobile network ran a commercial proof-of-concept in 2021 to test market proposition and 5G performance on its mobile network in several areas across Tshwane, Emfuleni, Ethekwini, and Cape Town.

There has been no word on when it plans to make its 5G network available to all its customers. @ By: MyBroadband


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