Following Rain’s launch of South Africa’s first 5G network in partnership with Huawei, the companies are planning to expand their offering with new products.
Rain’s new 5G service offers uncapped data with average speeds of around 200Mbps for R1,000 per month, leveraging Huawei’s 5G CPE to deliver high-speed broadband to homes and businesses.
This offering is currently only available to a group of existing customers, although Rain said it plans to open up its 5G offering to the general public in the coming weeks.
The company also stated that as its 5G ecosystem evolves, it would offer additional products for use on its network.
“As the ecosystem matures many more 5G devices (such as dual-SIM mobile phones, MiFis, tablets, and 5G-connected laptops) will become available at affordable cost,” Rain said.
MyBroadband spoke to Huawei CBG South Africa general manager Likun Zhao about the company’s plan to launch new 5G devices in partnership with Rain.
Outdoor CPE and Mi-Fi
Zhao said that in the current phase, Huawei and Rain were focusing on the initial rollout of the 5G product for homes and small businesses.
“For this phase, we are focused on 5G routers and we have developed packages for homes and small companies,” Zhao said.
“5G coverage is limited at the moment,” he added. “Depending on the roll-out of 5G base stations, I believe we will develop more 5G services in South Africa.”
He added that Huawei is focussing on the development of 5G mobile Wi-Fi routers (Mi-Fi devices) and an outdoor CPE for improved connectivity to the 5G network.
“For this year, we will focus on new 5G routers,” he said. “The next product we will introduce is an antenna which can attach to windows to solve the indoor coverage problem, and 5G Mi-Fi will be another product that we will introduce to Rain.”
Zhao said that Huawei would test the 5G Mi-Fi product in South Africa by the end of this year, in addition to its outdoor CPE.
Huawei also plans to launch a Wi-Fi mesh system which it will offer as a solution for home and business 5G networks. “If you have very high speeds over 5G, we don’t want the Wi-Fi speed to be the limitation,” Zhao said.
Rain CEO Willem Roos told MyBroadband that the Rain network would work with any certified 5G router.
“Rain’s 5G network will be compatible with any Rain 5G certified router such as the Huawei 5G outdoor CPE,” Roos said. “We think Wi-Fi 6 and mesh functionality will be a great solution for many homes.”
“We also believe the outdoor CPE will provide excellent reception and ensure fantastic speeds throughout the coverage area.”
He added that Rain has no plans to introduce other devices at this stage, and said the company could not confirm any pricing for these new products yet.
Competitor to fibre
Huawei CBG South Africa CTO Akhram Mohamed told MyBroadband that 5G fixed-wireless access products such as the offering launched by Rain could be a major competitor to fibre in South Africa.
“The outdoor CPE will be a complete game-changer, as one of the disadvantages of 5G is indoor coverage,” Mohamed said.
“Now you have the 5G CPE and the mesh Wi-Fi system. This can give you spectacular coverage at amazing speeds, at a price which competes with fibre packages – it’s a no-brainer.”
“Once these solutions begin rolling out with support from Huawei, you will find the price of the hardware coming down. I really think it is going to completely take over homes as well as businesses,” he added.
Zhao added that 5G fixed-wireless access will be a major opportunity for South Africa, offering customers fibre-like speeds for competitive prices.
Users interested in signing up for Rain’s 5G service can register their interest on the company’s website, and Rain will contact them when 5G becomes available in their area.