MTN and Huawei launch first outdoor 5G trial in South Africa

MTN has partnered with Huawei to conduct the first 5G outdoor trial in Africa.

Using Huawei’s recently-launched commercial 5G terminal in conjunction with an existing tower, MTN reached download speeds of 530Mbps and upload speeds of 79Mbps, along with a latency of 7ms – measured in an online speed test.

The network allocated 100MHz of its high-frequency 28GHz spectrum to conduct the test and used Huawei’s 5G outdoor terminal to deliver the connection to a Huawei Wi-Fi router.

“This is the first time we are demonstrating a complete end-to-end 5G network operating in a real-world environemnt,” said MTN.

The connection was provided by a 5G radio set-up near the live demo site, and multiple devices were connected to the router and used to measure the speed delivered by the connection.

Fibre look-alike

Unlike the 5G trial conducted in partnership with Ericsson earlier this year, MTN said this was a field trial more indicative of real-world network performance – using far less spectrum and more compact hardware.

The previous test used a base station in MTN’s offices to deliver 5G speeds, while this trial utilised a connection provided by existing infrastructure.

MTN said the connection used in the trial could function as a “fibre look-alike” solution for fixed broadband access.

The mobile operator ran multiple demos simultaneously using its 5G connection, including VR demos, 4K video streams, and online speed tests.

The frequency of the spectrum allocated for the outdoor trial is too high to be viable for the widespread connection of handheld devices, but could be used to deliver high-speed fixed wireless access to businesses and customers.

MTN said the rollout of 5G services to smartphones and other handheld devices would depend on the allocation of lower-frequency spectrum to operators and the development of compatible devices.

Images of the Huawei 5G terminals and speed test results are posted below.

MTN 5G Outdoor Trial (1)

MTN 5G Outdoor Trial (2)

MTN 5G Outdoor Trial (3)

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MTN and Huawei launch first outdoor 5G trial in South Africa