SA operators eager to 'flick the switch' to 4G

2014-01-30 12:00
South African mobile operators are eager to switch on a 4G network as soon as are allocated spectrum. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

South African mobile operators are eager to switch on a 4G network as soon as are allocated spectrum. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cape Town - Mobile operators are gearing up to "flick the switch" as soon as the government grants spectrum for high speed broadband.

Vodacom and MTN have been investing in their network infrastructure so that the operators can act swiftly should the highly sought-after spectrum for true mobile broadband be awarded.

The operators have rolled out limited LTE (Long Term Evolution) services as a stepping stone to high speed broadband.

"We have also been busy upgrading all of our existing base stations with new 3G equipment that is software upgradable to LTE. This means we'll be ready to have LTE up with a flick of switch when we get spectrum," a Vodacom spokesperson told News24.

Despite the roll-out of 4G service being hampered and delayed by, among others, the apparent reluctance of the public broadcaster to move to digital terrestrial television, the new Draft National Broadband Policy calls for accelerated access and delivery of high speed mobile networks.

Government intention

"Delays in the allocation of high-demand spectrum to roll out the next generation (4G) networks creates a severe constraint on operators' ability to meet demand and improve broadband uptake in the access networks," the document says.

It adds that continued delay could potentially rob the country of the innovation and tax revenue that such a network may facilitate.

"Institutional challenges associated with spectrum allocation, together with delays in the migration of analogue terrestrial broadcasting to digital, have meant that service innovation, increased competition, potential job opportunities and tax revenues have not been realised."

The department of communications has signalled its intention to speed up the processes and the finalised policy is expected to be launched in March 2014 without spectrum allocation taking place later in the year.

"The rollout of broadband is integrally linked to the growth of a 21st century economy and ultimately to addressing one of our country’s pressing problems, the reduction of unemployment, especially amongst our youth," said Communications Minister Yunus Carrim at the South Africa Connect: Creating Opportunities, Ensuring Inclusion conference late in 2013.

International organisation the GSM Association criticised the fact that SA had had multiple ministers which resulted in the country not moving sooner in the allocation of spectrum, critical for broadband roll-out.

"The issue comes from the fact that there's been three ministers of communication. We're asking them with these World Bank studies to look at a long term issue, but they're focused on the political realities of this budget; this coming fiscal year," Peter Lyons, director of Public Policy Africa Middle East at the GSM Association told News24.

Job opportunities

He said that more people who are active online would spike the economy and create job opportunities, a fact that the minister accepts.

Lyons, though, warned that many developing countries see the mobile ecosystem as a way to extract tax from the informal sector.

"To address the political reality you have to offer some kind of viable alternative and for many policymakers, they see the mobile sector as a proxy to tax the informal economy.

"Obviously this is a very short-sighted view, but there has to be some kind of alternative that you can present to them - not necessarily over the near term; maybe two to three years," Lyons said.

SA lags far behind first world nations like Japan where 2G was completely eliminated in 2011 and 4G grew to 25% in 2013.

- Follow Duncan on Twitter

Read more on:    gsma  |  vodacom  |  mobile  |  broadband

Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


An uncomfortable election

The latter few weeks of election 2014, have seen South Africans reeling from an assault on their comfort zone when it comes to voting, writes Daniel Silke


Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
More traffic reports...

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now! - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Bold Touch 9900

The Blackberry Bold Touch 9900 is as the name says...

From R3565.00

I'm shopping for:


You may find yourself putting in that extra effort on looking good and making an impression. more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.