MTN 5G coming to South Africa – Here is how it will work

MTN South Africa has confirmed that it will continue to offer 5G services after its temporary spectrum from ICASA is retracted.

This follows the mobile operator announcing that it would launch a new 5G network this month and promoting this 5G product in its Y’ello magazine.

MTN’s 5G network will follow in the footsteps of Rain and Vodacom, both of whom already offer 5G services to their customers.

Vodacom previously said it had used temporary spectrum allocated by ICASA to fast-track its 5G network launch, but confirmed it would roam entirely on Liquid Telecom’s 5G network once this temporary spectrum is retracted.

MyBroadband asked MTN South Africa what its plans are for its 5G network once temporary spectrum is retracted and how its 5G product will work.

MTN 5G network

MTN executive for corporate affairs Jacqui O’Sullivan told MyBroadband that MTN has been looking at the opportunity to use spectrum from within the same band dynamically for both 4G and 5G.

It had been preparing for this long before the lockdown took effect, it said.

“We have proactively been modernising our radio network to be 5G ready and have also been upgrading all elements in the value chain – specifically the transmission and core networks that are an integral part of a 5G network,” said O’Sullivan.

O’Sullivan added that MTN’s core network has been upgraded to be 3GPP Release 15-compliant as part of its preparations to launch 5G.

“Our core network was upgraded in 2019 to be 3GPP Release 15-compliant as part of 5G trials we’ve been running,” she explained.

She added that MTN is using the temporary spectrum from ICASA to provide relief for LTE capacity in areas determined to be data hotspots.

“The 3.5GHz band is a key 5G band and we will also do some deployments in this band,” O’Sullivan added.

MTN also anticipates that the timing of the new spectrum auction and the switching off of the temporary spectrum will coincide with each other so as to minimise any disruptions.

MTN’s 5G network

MTN has confirmed that its upcoming 5G network will be available to both post-paid and prepaid customers provided they have a 5G-enabled device and an LTE SIM card.

The 5G service will be available at current LTE SIM card customer prices, the company said.

MTN stated in its Y’ello magazine that its 5G network service offering is valid from Monday 1 June 2020 and that it is only available in LTE coverage areas.

However, delays in bringing 5G equipment into South Africa have delayed the planned launch date slightly – with the network now set to launch later this month.

As part of the 5G network launch, MTN has also touted Huawei’s new 5G enabled P40 and P40 Pro smartphones.

“Be one of the very first South Africans to experience the magic of a 5G-enabled smartphone when you get the Huawei P40 or P40 Pro,” the promotion states.

Now read: Rain plans big 5G expansion in South Africa

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MTN 5G coming to South Africa – Here is how it will work