Rain has made a significant change to its 5G network in Gauteng, which covers major urban areas such as Johannesburg and Pretoria.
Many Rain 5G users recently reported that their network configurations had been changed.
Specifically, their 5G wireless routers said the network type they were connected to had changed to “SA” from its previous “NSA” configuration.
These two terms refer to two categories of basic 5G network architecture – non-standalone (NSA) and standalone (SA).
Non-standalone network architecture relies on an active 4G or LTE connection to provide more speed and data bandwidth. This means that users connected to NSA 5G are actually using both 4G and 5G network hardware.
Standalone 5G networks do not have any 4G connection and are completely independent. This means that all traffic from the 5G client is transmitted over the 5G network.
This allows for improved speeds, as confirmed by many Gauteng residents on the MyBroadband forum who changed over to SA 5G.
A number of users experienced issues with the switchover from NSA to SA 5G, but Rain is working to resolve these problems as quickly as possible.
All 5G customers switched over
Rain CEO Willem Roos confirmed to MyBroadband that the network has migrated all customers in Gauteng to the newly-supported architecture.
“Rain has migrated all our 5G users in Gauteng from NSA to SA. Our Cape Town network is already operating in SA configuration.” Roos said.
“As the implementation of 5G networks matures, it has become clear that SA is best practice in rolling out the network.”
Roos said that Rain expects people in these areas to see stability and speed improvements as a result of the migration to standalone architecture.
He added that there is a 4G fallback option if the 5G connection fails. This is especially helpful during load-shedding, as many of Rain’s 5G base stations do not have backup power.
“Rain has implemented the functionality for 5G users to attach to the 4G network if a 5G tower goes down (say when there is load-shedding),” Roos said.
“We have however seen instances where a user then gets ‘trapped’ on the 4G network, with the CPE not re-attaching to 5G when the service is back up.”
“A simple reboot of the CPE fixes the issue. We are currently working on solving the problem for all users,” he said.
Standalone 5G benefits
Rain and Huawei jointly launched the first standalone 5G network in South Africa in July 2020, with the launch of its 5G network in Cape Town.
Rain’s Standalone 5G is currently available in Cape Town covering areas including Sea Point in Cape Town, Claremont, Goodwood, Bellville, Durbanville, and Cape Town City Centre.
At this launch, Rain said that standalone 5G will further improve network performance beyond that of the non-standalone 5G architecture previously seen in Gauteng.
“Standalone 5G will further improve 5G network performance with increased uplink rate, lower latency, and improved reliability, ushering in high-end cloud VR and cloud gaming services, more diversified enterprise and home broadband services,” Rain said.
Standalone 5G also supports advanced network-slicing functions and mobile edge computing (MEC), allowing the network to offer ultra-low latency services and much higher capacity than NSA 5G architecture.