ZTE and MTN have signed a memorandum of understanding at the unveiling of their joint 5G showcase at AfricaCom in Cape Town on Tuesday.
As part of the showcase, the Deputy Minister of Communications for South Africa, Pinky Kekana, initiated a synthetic speed test which achieved a download speed of over 1.3Gbps and and upload speed of 90Mbps.
The trial was set up as a 5G non-standalone network, which means it uses some of the elements of MTN’s existing LTE infrastructure.
Operators like MTN look to non-standalone 5G as a way to transition between 4G and a standalone 5G network.
In addition to speed tests, ZTE also had a dancer move the arms of a robot over the 5G network using motion-sensing controllers.
It also demonstrated transmitting the voice and image of former rugby captain Corné Krige in real-time to a holographic projector. ZTE said that such holographic communication currently needs around 20Mbps of download and upload bandwidth, as well as latencies below 10 milliseconds.
“5G is a game changer,” said Mr Xiao Ming, President of Global Sales at ZTE.
There is also opportunity for countries like South Africa to overtake more mature economies. “If we act,” he said.
Ming said that South Africa can benefit from China’s tremendous economies of scale and predicted that the cost of 5G technology will rapidly decrease.
By 2020 there will be two large 5G networks in China, with around a million sites set to be built, he said.
Over a million 5G sites will be built in China alone, he said.
“It will be good for Africa, and especially South Africa, to take the lead on 5G.”
This article was published in partnership with ZTE.