Mixed messages over Cell C roaming on MTN’s 5G network

Cell C claims its subscribers will get access to MTN’s 5G network, but MTN disputes this, saying Cell C has not requested access to its 5G’s network.

Last year, Cell C signed an extended roaming agreement with MTN which gives its customers access to MTN’s national 3G and 4G networks.

Through this agreement, Cell C customers received access to over 12,500 MTN sites, 90% of which are LTE-enabled.

This agreement, however, did not include roaming on MTN’s 5G network, which was launched earlier this year.

In June 2020, MTN launched its 5G network in South Africa which offers high peak data speeds, ultra-low latency, increased reliability, and greater network capacity.

The 5G network launched with 100 sites and coverage in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Bloemfontein, and Port Elizabeth.

MTN partly relied on temporary spectrum allocation by ICASA for its 5G network, which uses spectrum in the 3.5GHz, 2,100MHz, 1,800MHz, 700MHz, and 28GHz bands.

MTN SA CTIO Giovanni Chiarelli said that the launch of the 5G network is thanks in part to the recent allocation of temporary spectrum by ICASA.

“For the past two years we have been actively innovating around the potential of 5G, using different bands and various vendors and across different platforms and devices, to ensure MTN South Africa can maintain leadership in 5G, as we have been able to maintain our leadership in 4G,” Chiarelli said.

MTN also introduced the re-farming of some 4G spectrum to allow it to run 4G and 5G spectrum, at the same time, in the same band.

Cell C 5G roaming confusion

There is currently conflicting feedback from Cell C and MTN about 5G roaming on MTN’s network.

Cell C told MyBroadband that its subscribers will be allowed to roam on MTN’s 5G network.

“Cell C would roam on MTN’s 5G network and are in discussions,” the mobile operator told MyBroadband.

MTN, however, disputed this claim. “Cell C has not requested access to MTN’s 5G’s network and therefore an agreement has not been reached,” MTN SA’s corporate affairs executive, Jacqui O’Sullivan said.

She added that it is Cell C’s choice as to who to partner with for 5G access for its subscribers.

“Should Cell C request this access from MTN, and should MTN have the required capacity to offer access, we would at that stage consider granting Cell C roaming access to our 5G network,” O’Sullivan said.

Now read: MTN’s 5G network – All the details

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Mixed messages over Cell C roaming on MTN’s 5G network