MTN 5G launch: Everything you need to know - TechCentral

MTN 5G launch: Everything you need to know

MTN South Africa CEO Godfrey Motsa

MTN South Africa has launched a commercial 5G network in South Africa, providing access from 100 high sites around the country.

The operator used various spectrum bands, including temporary spectrum assigned by communications regulator Icasa during the Covid-19 state of disaster, to launch the network.

The network today covers parts of Johannesburg, Cape Town, Bloemfontein and Port Elizabeth as well as several smaller towns.

“Today’s launch comes on the back of government’s allocation of temporary spectrum but is also the culmination of extensive 5G trials and testing,” the company said in a statement.

“Our 5G strategy has been years in the making and we are confident that we have built a strong foundation to grow and support our 5G ecosystem…,” said chief technology and information officer Giovanni Chiarelli.

“One of the key innovations driving the broad roll-out by MTN has been a strategic approach to dynamic spectrum sharing, as these deployments overcome the challenges of lack of dedicated 5G spectrum.”

Four bands

Chiarelli said MTN will deliver 5G connectivity on four different spectrum bands:

  • 3.5GHz at 58 sites: This is the ideal spectrum band for 5G, known as the “golden band”, offering both faster speeds and low latencies. MTN has deployed sites in the 3.5GHz band in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Bloemfontein.
  • 2.1GHz and 1.8GHz at 35 sites: MTN is re-farming some 4G spectrum to allow it to run 4G and 5G spectrum, at the same time, in the same band. This allows for easier migration of network technology from LTE to 5G. It also allows us to deploy 5G using existing spectrum assets in the absence of additional high-demand spectrum. MTN has deployed 5G sites at 2.1GHz in Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth.
  • 700MHz at five sites: This is an excellent band for extensive coverage, making it ideal for use for urban indoor settings and for small towns and rural coverage due to the low-band frequency propagation. Small towns now covered by MTN 5G using 700MHz include Port Alfred, Hopetown, Virginia, Queenstown and Tsantsabane.
  • 28GHz at three sites: This high-frequency bandwidth offers great speeds, making this ideal for fixed-wireless 5G connectivity. This solution has been deployed in Hatfield (Pretoria), Edenvale and Durban.

“We are extremely encouraged by the release of the temporary spectrum by Icasa. Our call to the regulator and government is to release permanent 4G and 5G spectrum as a matter of urgency so that we can fuel the digital revolution our nation needs to bridge the digital divide that currently deepens the gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’,” said MTN South Africa CEO Godfrey Motsa.  — (c) 2020 NewsCentral Media

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