Mobile operator Cell C will launch fourth-generation (4G) mobile services based on long-term evolution (LTE) technology in Cape Town and Durban as well as other top coastal holiday resorts in December. This will be done on a trial basis ahead of a commercial launch, which will follow at an unspecified future date.
According to spokesman Karin Fourie, the 4G/LTE network will cover only certain parts of Cape Town and Durban, in areas where Cell C’s towers have been connected to super-fast fibre-optic backhaul infrastructure.
She says the roll-out will be expanded to Johannesburg and Pretoria early in 2013.
Because the services will be offered on a trial basis only for now, Cell C says it will identify heavy users of its network and invite these customers to join the trial. These trial users will be offered a free LTE device to test the service.
Fourie says she can’t say yet how many base stations will offer 4G services over the December end-of-year holidays or how quickly the services will be rolled out to other parts of the country.
In October, Vodacom became the first SA operator to launch commercial 4G/LTE services — offering significantly faster connection speeds to consumers — although its footprint is still relatively small. It is offering the higher-speed access at only 70 sites in Johannesburg.
Rival MTN, which has been running a 4G/LTE pilot for more than a year, has said it won’t launch its network commercially before it has between 400 and 500 base stations active with the new technology. The company has said it will launch the service commercially before the end of the year. — (c) 2012 NewsCentral Media