South African operators are ready to roll out LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) around the country, but unfortunately a lack of spectrum is holding them back.
LTE-Advanced has many benefits over standard LTE, including higher broadband speeds and lower latency.
Telkom launched South Africa’s first LTE-Advanced network in Parkview and surrounding areas in November 2014, delivering Internet connectivity speeds of up to 150Mbps.
Recently, iBurst announced it was rolling out an LTE network – with plans to switch to LTE-Advanced technology after a trial with FNB.
Here is the state of LTE-Advanced network roll-outs in South Africa.
MTN plans to commercially launch LTE-A during 2016
Krishna Chetty, General Manager: Radio Planning and Optimisation at MTN SA, said the majority of their 3,500 LTE sites are LTE-A ready.
MTN hopes to commercially deploy LTE-A in some areas during 2016.
“MTN SA has achieved downlink throughputs in excess of 140Mbps using LTE-A carrier aggregation, but actual performance when commercially deployed will depend on how much spectrum can be allocated to a second LTE carrier,” said Chetty.
“It must be noted that the deployment of LTE-A requires sufficient spectrum to be available to an operator to be able to configure more than one LTE carrier per site-sector in order to aggregate them.”
MTN, like other local operators, is severely constrained when it comes to spectrum.
“MTN regularly monitors the feasibility of doing spectrum re-farming in order to deploy LTE-A carrier aggregation.”
Cell C is testing LTE-Advanced
Cell C said that while its focus in 2015 was the roll-out of about 1,000 LTE sites, it has been testing LTE-Advanced.
“We’ve been running tests in various areas around Gauteng and the Western Cape,” said Cell C.
“We successfully demonstrated LTE-Advanced at AfricaCom in November 2015, and achieved download speeds of up to 138Mbps.”
Cell C does not have a firm launch date for LTE-A yet.
Telkom LTE-A available in many suburbs around the country
Telkom currently offers LTE-Advanced in Carlswald, Craighall Park, Green Point, Greenside, Halfway Gardens, Highveld, Houghton Estate, Illovo, Kayalami Hills, and Killarney.
It is also available in Melrose, Midstream Estate, Mouille Point, Noordwyk, Parktown, Parktown North, Parkview, Prestondale, Rondebosch, Rosebank, Sandhurst, Saxonwold, Sea Point, Three Anchor Bay, Umhlanga, and Voma Valley.
iBurst has secured funding to roll out an LTE-Advanced network
iBurst has secured funding to roll out an LTE-A network, and is finalising contract negotiations with a vendor for the project.
FNB is currently trialling iBurst’s LTE network – after which it plans to turn the network on.
The company will use its LTE-A network to serve its existing iBurst Wireless subscribers, and attract new customers to the company.
Vodacom said that it will provide information about its LTE-Advanced network soon.