SAVIOUS KWINIKA and MTHULISI SIBANDA
A HISTORIC fifth generation (5G) technology and applications trial has been conducted in Africa but concerns remain over the failure by the South African government to allocate extra spectrum.
MTN and the Sweden-headquartered Ericsson launched the trial at the former’s headquarters in Johannesburg on Monday, achieving a throughput in data transmission, network throughput is the amount of data moved successfully from one place to another in a given time period of more than 20 gigabits per second (Gbps) with less than 5 milliseconds (ms) latency, which is the highest achieved on a mobile network in Africa.
According to experts, this fifth generation (5G) mobile networks technology is at least 100 times faster than 4G.
Giovanni Chiarelli, MTN South Africa Chief Technology and Information Officer (CTO), said 5G offered massive potential for South Africa and the continent. He said with 5G, remote healthcare through connected robots could offer world-class surgery in the most remote parts of the continent and the world.
In addition, self-driving cars could change the face of road safety, along with smart agriculture, smart mining and smart cities.
“There is no doubt that 5G will offer the consumer higher speeds and lower latencies,” Chiarelli said.
“However, to achieve this, we need the capacity that comes with additional spectrum (and) thus once again we call on the government to urgently release the much-needed spectrum that is required in South Africa, to lower the cost of data and drive growth and development for all South Africans.”
The allocation of spectrum is an emotive issue in South Africa.
Government in 2016 threatened legal action against the Independent Communications Authority (ICASA) after it launched the auction for 700MHz, 800MHz and 2.6GHz spectrum licences.
At the time, Telecommunications and Postal Services Minister, Siyabonga Cwele, said government had not established policy direction on spectrum
thus ICASA failed to adhere to legislation and regulations.
However, MTN and partners continue identifying 5G use cases and applications for the digital transformation of industries such as mining, transportation, agriculture, manufacturing and utilities.
Babak Fouladi, Chief Technology and Information Officer of the MTN Group, said they were continuously “pushing the boundaries” of how 5G can meet the diverse needs of customers.
“5G gives us the opportunity to rethink how our business can add further value to the lives of our customers,” Fouladi said.
Seckin Arikan, Vice President and Head of Global Customer Unit MTN at Ericsson Middle East and Africa, said the launch a 5G trial with MTN in
Africa, supported their strategy of delivering next-generation mobile broadband, cloud as well as providing support for massive Internet of Things (IoT) deployment. – CAJ News