SA expert welcomes Vodacom 4G

2012-10-11 14:02
An industry expert has welcomed networks labelled 4G in SA. (Motorola)

An industry expert has welcomed networks labelled 4G in SA. (Motorola)

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Cape Town - The 4G mobile networks announced by the mobile operators do not fulfil the exacting requirements of fourth generation networks, but perform as well with regard to user experience, an industry expert has said.

Both Vodacom and MTN announced the rollout of 4G as the country headed toward full LTE (Long Term Evolution) mobile network, despite not being granted access to the spectrum for the service.

Vodacom has already made their service available in Gauteng, and MTN will have it available before the end of the year.

"Technically it's not [4G] because it doesn't meet the full specifications of the ITU [International Telecommunication Union] in terms of the LTE advanced specifications, but in truth, it's become more of a marketing issue than a technical issue because the performance is of the same level," Wold Wide Worx CEO Arthur Goldstuck told News24.

Goldstuck conceded that while the technology didn't meet the exacting requirements of 4G, users would experience unprecedented mobile speeds in SA.

Unfair criticism

"The truth is that what people will experience, is a next generation experience. It's quite absurd to compare the speeds that this LTE network will provide to 3G. To call it 3G is misleading," he said.

The 4G service is expected to produce speeds of over 40mbps, much faster than the previously generation peak speeds of up to 7mbps.

According to the ITU, true 4G is defined as mobile speeds of 100mbps for mobile data communication in cars, for example, and 1gbps (Gigabit per second) for pedestrians.

"It might not be technically accurate to call it 4G, but from the experience point of view, it certainly is equivalent to 4G," Goldstuck said.

He argued that the media had unfairly criticised the initiatives to the faster networks.

"I know that a lot of people bash the networks for claiming it to be 4G because it doesn't match the precise specification, but I think the media have got it wrong in this regard."

Cell C launched an advertising campaign on 4G in 2010, but it ended with a ruling by the Advertising Standards Authority that the ads were misleading. The company appealed, but lost.

Game changing

Vodacom began rolling out a double speed network in 2011, and wasted no time in differentiating themselves from the Cell C product.

"This is something we've been working on for a while and it's double the speed of the thing Cell C called 4G," Vodacom's executive head of media relations Richard Boorman told News24 at the time.

Goldstuck endorsed the initiative, saying that it represented a game changing service for South Africans.

"It really is a significant step forward and it's almost unfortunate that we are beholden to a narrow technical specification."

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