Two days after Vodacom said it would begin trialling 5G services in South Africa on a limited basis, MTN has also jumped on the bandwagon, saying in a statement on Thursday morning that it has signed a memorandum of understanding with Ericsson to be “the first” with a 5G trial in the first quarter of 2018.
Vodacom and MTN will now no doubt be racing to be first to launch limited test of 5G, the standards for which are still being bedded down internationally. Ironically, both may be beaten to the punch by Comsol, a much smaller telecommunications operator that said recently that it will launch the country’s first 5G trial this month and that its trial will involve live customers.
MTN said in its statement that Ericsson will provide it with “end-to-end 5G capacity support” and both will identify 5G use cases and applications for the digital transformation of industry verticals such as mining, transportation, agriculture, manufacturing and utilities”.
“MTN will trial a range of 5G use cases and applications in its test bed laboratory proof of concept in South Africa, leading to commercial deployment in the future,” it said.
“In collaboration with Ericsson, we are continuously testing, learning and pushing the boundaries of how 5G can meet the diverse needs of our customers in the future. We’re developing 5G technology based on real business needs,” said MTN South Africa chief technology and information officer Giovanni Chiarelli in the statement.
Vodacom said on Tuesday that it would work with Nokia on its planned trials. The companies will focus on the delivery of ultra-high-definition and virtual reality video using the enhanced mobile broadband and ultra-low latency capabilities of 5G, it said.
“Vodacom and Nokia will also collaborate to understand how 5G can drive continued economic growth in industries important to South Africa including manufacturing, mining, healthcare, media, energy and transportation,” the companies said in a statement.
Who will be first?
Vodacom chief technology officer Andries Delport said 5G would have applications in big data analytics, artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, and the Internet of things.
The companies did not say when the trials would begin.
Last month, TechCentral reported exclusively that Comsol, a telecoms company backed by Nedbank, the Industrial Development Corporation and Andile Ngcaba’s Convergence Partners, would launch the first 5G network in South Africa in November.
The company, based in Midrand in Johannesburg, will launch a trial 5G network, with live customers, in partnership with Internet service providers with a view to launching a commercial 5G network thereafter. Several high sites will be used for the trial. — © 2017 NewsCentral Media