MTN has announced plans to launch its first trial of fifth-generation, 5G technology which promises faster data transfer speeds and sub-5ms latency in the near future.
The company says it has achieved download speeds of more than 20 gigabits per second in the first trial adding that the 5G trial is based on commercially available baseband hardware and 5G mobility is supported.
MTN has over the past year tested the 5G technology in laboratories and implemented in fields using different spectrum bands and hardware in preparation for a commercial deployment in the near future.
Following a temporary license from the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), MTN’s 5G trial network uses 800MHz of bandwidth in the 15GHz band.
The service provider which already has a 4G technology license in Nigeria said it was ready to deploy the technology commercially but could not do so until it had access to the additional frequency spectrum.
The ICASA which regulates spectrum‚ has not yet allocated spectrum for 4G infrastructure‚ forcing operators to reallocate 2G and 3G spectrum.
The company and its partners say they will continue to identify 5G use cases and applications for the digital transformation of industries such as mining, transportation, agriculture, manufacturing, and utilities.
“In collaboration with our partners, we are continuously pushing the boundaries of how 5G can meet the diverse needs of our customers. 5G gives us the opportunity to rethink how our business can add further value to the lives of our customers,” MTN’s Chief Technology and Information Officer, Babak Fouladi said.
According to Giovanni Chiarelli, the Chief Technology and Information Officer for MTN SA, 5G offered a whole new world of potential for South Africa and the continent.
“With 5G, remote healthcare through connected robots could offer world-class surgery in the most remote parts of the continent and the world. 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 but to achieve this, we need the capacity that comes with additional spectrum 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,” Chiarelli said.
In collaboration with network equipment provider Ericsson, MTN says its 5G technology trial is at least 100 times faster than 4G.
In comparison, 5G boasts of faster data transfer speeds and lower latency than 4G, along with support for more devices and improved reliability.
According to MTN, the improvements which 5G technology will allow over 4G include: 1,000-times the capacity, 100-times the speed, 100-times the connected devices, 10-times lower latency and 10-times reliability.
Moreover, once adequate spectrum is allocated to the 5G standard, the increased capacity could also result in lower data costs.
If MTN succeeds with this first trial, the feat would be the highest achieved on a mobile network in Africa.