Rain launched its 5G network in November 2019, becoming the first South African mobile network to have an active commercial 5G network running in the country.
This was following the launch of the service to a few select users in September 2019.
Rain CMO Khaya Dlanga previously said that Rain’s 5G service offers up to 700Mbps in optimal conditions, and MyBroadband’s speed test found that Rain’s 5G service was operating at an average of around 500Mbps.
5G can be ordered directly from Rain’s website if there is coverage where you live.
MyBroadband asked the company about the uptake of this 5G product since its launch last year, as well as the speeds achieved by customers.
Uptake and speeds achieved
Dlanga told MyBroadband that Rain has been satisfied with the initial uptake of its commercial 5G services.
“The initial take-up has been in line with our expectations for a premium-priced home Internet service in a targeted geographical area,” said Dlanga.
However, Rain was not willing to disclose sales figures at this stage.
Dlanga said that there was a notable increase in data usage by 5G users compared to its 4G users.
“Our 5G users obviously consume much more data than the 4G base, as the 5G service is unlimited for 24 hours of the day.”
“Streaming is also invariably in HD as the 5G network can provide the requisite capacity,” Dlanga added.
He noted that Rain’s latest data shows that some users have achieved speeds as high as 900Mbps, while average download speeds are approximately 250Mbps.
Plans for 2020
Dlanga said that Rain has plans to expand coverage in the Gauteng region – particularly the Johannesburg and Tshwane metro areas.
He said Rain also hopes to launch 5G in Cape Town and Durban during 2020.
Rain’s goals to expand its network were echoed by Rain CEO Willem Roos in December 2019, who said that Rain has big plans to build its 5G network out significantly to compete with fibre providers across the country.
“Our focus in 2020 will be to expand our 4G and 5G network coverage size,” Roos said.
“Currently Rain has … 250 5G sites. Our initial 5G network of 250 sites already ‘passes’ 500,000 households. That’s almost an equal size to the two largest fibre network operators in the country.”
Roos said that Rain aims to have 700 5G sites active in South Africa by the end of 2020.
Alongside its indoor 5G routers, Rain has begun bundling Huawei’s outdoor 5G routers with its 5G packages.
“We are now bundling the Huawei 5G CPE X with our 5G offering. It is a router than can be used indoor as well mounted outdoor,” said Rain.
“It comes with a 10-metre flat power-over-Ethernet cable which makes installation very easy,” said the company.
Using an outdoor 5G router can improve signal strength for the end-user, allowing for faster speeds and overall improved performance.
This could be a reason for the peak speeds of Rain’s 5G users rising from 700Mbps to 900Mbps.
Other networks waiting for spectrum
MyBroadband recently spoke with Vodacom and MTN, both of which said they are waiting on the government to release 5G spectrum so they can launch commercial 5G networks in South Africa.
“Vodacom’s network in South Africa has been 5G ready since August 2018 and we expect to be in a position to commercially launch the technology in South Africa once we have access to the requisite spectrum,” said Vodacom.
“The most significant challenge preventing MTN from commercially launching 5G services is the lack of appropriate 5G spectrum,” agreed Jacqui O’Sullivan, executive for corporate affairs at MTN South Africa.
O’Sullivan added that if they receive 5G spectrum, they hope to launch their commercial network this year.