Rain is rolling out a 5G network in Johannesburg and Cape Town in partnership with Huawei and Nokia respectively.
The company officially launched its commercial 5G network at Mobile World Congress 2019 on 26 February, where it said it is the first operator in South Africa to do so.
Rain’s 5G network uses its 3.6GHz spectrum, and the company said the technology provides fibre-like speeds without the “installation complexities, time delays, and cost of laying fibre”.
MyBroadband asked to test Rain’s new 5G network, but CEO Willem Roos explained that it is “not in a position to give access to test the network at this stage”.
This, Roos explained, is because there are no commercially-available 5G routers and it is currently relying on prototypes from its partners for network testing.
“I am sure you will understand that we are in the initial phase of rolling out the network and we would like to perform robust internal testing first,” Roos said.
Rain chairman Michael Jordaan said the first 5G routers will arrive in South Africa in mid-2019, with a public launch of its 5G service planned for September.
“We aim to provide significant coverage in key areas in Johannesburg and Cape Town to enable a launch to consumers in the third quarter of this year,” Roos added.
“We then plan to increase coverage further in these metros, as well as other areas, over the next couple of years.”
Rain has 148MHz spectrum in the 3.6GHz band – significantly more spectrum that what it has in the 1,800MHz and 2.6GHz bands.
This spectrum will allow the company to offer high-speed fixed broadband access to consumers, but certain industry players have raised concern that this is “satellite spectrum”.
According to ICASA documentation, this spectrum has been assigned for “VSAT and PMP LINKS” and is licensed as an “Ad hoc Satellite service”.
Roos, however, told MyBroadband that the ICASA information is outdated and that the concern that it is using satellite spectrum for a terrestrial broadband network is unfounded.
“Our network deployment complies to all conditions of our spectrum licence and complies to the latest National Radio Frequency Plan as well as ITU Radio Regulations and recommendations,” he said.
The screenshot below provides an overview of publicly-available spectrum usage in South Africa.
ICASA was asked for comment on the matter, but the organisation did not reply by the time of publication.