Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub said the mobile operator will be able to launch 5G services as soon as the necessary spectrum is allocated to it.
Joosub told MyBroadband that the allocation of additional spectrum is still a long way off, however, and has been delayed due to setbacks in digital TV migration.
Once the spectrum is allocated, Vodacom will be ready to roll out 5G capabilities on its network.
“Rolling out 5G services would be a quick process after we get access to the required spectrum. It could happen almost overnight,” he said.
Vodacom is currently preparing its network to support 5G, and is ensuring its infrastructure is future-proof.
“We are trying to ensure that new equipment is 5G capable, including the antennae and fibre backhaul,” said Joosub.
Mobile data pricing
Joosub said the release of additional spectrum would also result in lower mobile data prices.
He said there is not a lack of investment in mobile data, but the capital expenditure is not being spent optimally due to the lack of available spectrum.
“After you have optimised a base station to use the existing spectrum as best as possible, there comes a point where you run out,” he said.
Building additional sites is the only way to significantly improve coverage and speeds at the moment, as networks are limited by their spectrum allocations.
“Right now, we are building more sites and densifying the network, but the new spectrum would allow us to use the current sites.”
Joosub explained that using existing sites with additional spectrum reduces the cost for the network to carry a megabyte of data. The network can then pass these savings to the consumer by offering cheaper data prices.
He added that the expedited allocation of new spectrum to mobile networks is an important issue which the government should deal with immediately.