Comsol Networks, a telecommunications business backed by Andile Ngcaba’s Convergence Partners, has launched the first 5G network in Soweto.
Using the company’s spectrum in the 28GHz radio spectrum frequency band, Comsol on Friday took the wraps off the trial network, built in partnership with Samsung Electronics, showcasing download speeds of up to 1.8Gbit/s.
The fixed-wireless (as opposed to mobile) 5G network will provide free Internet access to a range of facilities and businesses, including restaurants, on Soweto’s famous Vilakazi Street. People can visit the area and test the technology at least until the end of the year.
Comsol CEO Iain Stevenson said the company plans to launch a commercial 5G network in South Africa with Samsung by the end of 2019.
The Soweto trial will run until December using Comsol’s large chunk of contiguous spectrum at 28GHz, one of the frequency bands identified for 5G deployments. The band is well suited for fixed-wireless deployments.
The Vilakazi Street pilot network draws on Samsung’s 5G solutions, with Dark Fibre Africa providing fibre backhaul and MWeb acting as the Internet service provider. It consists of two 5G fixed-wireless base stations connected to 10Gbit/s fibre backhaul connections (and backed up with microwave backhaul).
The launch of the pilot comes two weeks after Vodacom said it had become the first operator in Africa to launch a standards-based, commercial 5G network. It launched the network in Lesotho, where the telecoms regulator gave it access to 5G spectrum in the 3.5GHz band. It said it is unable to launch 5G services in South Africa until it is given access to additional spectrum. – © 2018 NewsCentral Media