MTN has officially launched its 5G network in South Africa, which it said will deliver higher peak data speeds, ultra-low latency, increased reliability, and greater network capacity.
The network has launched with 100 sites, and the company’s 5G network covers areas of Johannesburg and Cape Town, as well as Bloemfontein and Port Elizabeth.
“Today, from MTN’s birthplace of South Africa, we are stepping up our digital revolution with the next generation of telecommunication technology, demonstrating to all South Africans that 5G is no longer just an idea – it is here, it works and it has the capacity to bring about
exponential improvements to our economy, and to the lives of the people we serve,” said MTN SA CEO Godfrey Motsa.
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.
“Our 5G strategy has been years in the making and we are confident that we have built a strong foundation to grow and support our 5G ecosystem to deliver an exceptional experience for our customers.”
MTN will deliver 5G connectivity on four different spectrum bands:
- 3.5 GHz at 58 sites – Available in Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Bloemfontein.
- 2,100MHz and 1,800MHz at 35 sites – Available in Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth.
- 700MHz at 5 sites – Available in Port Alfred, Hopetown, Virginia Queenstown, and Tsantsabane
- 28GHz at 3 sites – Available in Hatfield, Edenvale, and Durban.
MTN said it is introducing the re-farming of some 4G spectrum to allow it to run 4G and 5G spectrum, at the same time, in the same band.
“This allows for easier migration of network technology from LTE to 5G,” the company said.
“It also allows us to deploy 5G using existing spectrum assets in the absence of additional high demand spectrum.”
MTN said 5G will enable next-generation services such as virtual and augmented reality, ultra-high-definition video streaming, artificial intelligence, robotics, automated cars, and the Internet of Things (IoT).
Motsa added that MTN’s rollout of its 5G network will be ramped up to even more sites once government allocates permanent spectrum through the planned auction later this year.
“We are extremely encouraged by the release of the temporary spectrum,” Motsa said.
“Our call to the regulator and government is to release permanent 4G and 5G spectrum as a matter of urgency, so that we can fuel the digital revolution our nation needs to bridge the digital divide
that currently deepens the gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’.”
“If the spectrum is made available, the coverage is a given and the affordability can be achieved. Although we are starting relatively small our growth plans for our 5G ecosystem are huge,” Motsa said.
At the launch of its 5G network, MTN partnered with Emerge Gaming to demonstrate game streaming on a Huawei P40 Pro smartphone.
“Cloud gaming will do to gaming what video-on-demand has done to TV, it’s a complete gamechanger only this is a game-changer that will be delivered by 5G,” MTN said.
MTN’s service is offered in two variants – 5G home Wi-Fi and 5G mobile.
5G home Wi-Fi promises average speeds of 100Mbps and peak speeds of 500Mbps, while 5G mobile offers average speeds of 50Mbps and peak speeds of 500Mbps.
MTN is offering a wide range of 24-month and 36-month data plans priced between R499 and R1,599 per month.
This is in addition to unlimited data plans for R999 on a 36-month contract and R1,249 on a 24-month contract.