SA to wait for 4G smartphones

2012-02-13 07:49

Cape Town - Smartphone manufacturers have said that next-generation high-speed wireless devices will take some time to develop in South Africa.

"The ecosystem around 4G is going to be driven by the networks and around spectrum availability, and their willingness to invest in 4G networks," Patrick Henchie, Nokia head of product for South and East Africa told News24.

The rollout of LTE (Long Term Evolution) networks is anticipated by users internationally and while operators in SA have promoted higher speeds on wireless networks, it's a long way from speeds of 40mbps and higher expected with LTE.

At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nokia debuted an LTE-capable smartphone, but Henchie said that it would be unrealistic for South Africans to expect such devices in the country.

"The Lumia 900 that we announced at CES is an LTE or 4G device made specifically for the AT&T network. It's something that's in the pipeline; as more networks become 4G compliant, so more handsets will arrive."


Sony Ericsson hinted that device manufacturers would have smartphones ready by the time operators made LTE networks available .

"We haven't got any LTE products yet, but obviously we will change and it will become available as a standard when the need is there," Sony Ericsson Southern Africa marketing manager Colin Williamson told News24.

The GSMA, which oversees the development of global mobile penetration, urged governments, particularly those in developing countries to make spectrum available for mobile broadband.

"Across all of Sub-Saharan Africa, by releasing the 2.6GHz digital dividend band for mobile broadband, by 2016, this could create an additional $82bn per year in net GDP [gross domestic product] across the region," said Peter Lyons GSMA director for spectrum policy in Africa and the Middle East.

Mobile broadband is essential in Africa as there is a lack of fixed line infrastructure and Lyons said the allocation of spectrum would also have a direct impact on job creation.

Williamson said that 3G took a while to become universal in the market and LTE would take time, and that as networks made the technology available, manufactures would be under pressure to produce capable devices.

"The best case to look is when 3G was growing. If LTE is available on the networks and the networks are saying 'We've got LTE, we're faster', it turns to the manufacturers to say: 'Shit, we really need to up our game on LTE.'"

Nokia conceded that the tension between manufactures and operators created some paralysis.

"It's a chicken-and-egg situation," said Henchie.

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  • Citizen - 2012-02-13 08:56

    with our p*ss poor network speeds and lack of 'affordable' broadband, we have regressed to the dark ages in communications in SA...But guess what Vodacom will be 'selling' us 4G phones soon, selling us the 'wow' of 4G... when 3g barely works!

      Jonty - 2012-02-13 19:47

      Citizen having worked, lived and traveled in Europe, predominantly in Spain and the UK I can tell you that our 3G is comparable to most networks there and id have to say faster then anything Spain has to offer. I was on vodaphone, orange and hits in Spain and they where all way slower then in SA! And just getting signal in London is a mission on its own. let alone 3G. I did however have a 48 meg fixed line connection and cable tv for 40 euroes which cleans anything we have here! but our 3G aint half bad mate!

  • Glyn - 2012-02-13 09:15

    Change the governing party, change the tech level in the country. SA needs high-tech 3G/4G to progress.

  • Joe - 2012-02-13 11:26

    4G already available in Australia, albeit in very small numbers. The great thing is that as power users migrate to 4G, everyone scores - even 3G users will benefit as there will be less congestion on the older (3G) network.

  • ludlowdj - 2012-02-13 12:33

    "Nokia conceded that the tension between manufactures and operators created some paralysis" - who thinks up this nonsense? 4G phones are available internationally, the problem with South Africa is Telkom not releasing bandwidth and nothing else. Yes operators need to upgrade equipment to the new standards as they become available and applicable, but I would warrant that they simply upgrade according to the bandwidth available to them. you don't spend millions on 4G technology so that you can run a 3g network. BOTTOM LINE: there is no tension between manufacturers and operators, but there is a lot of tension between manufacturers and operators on one side and Telkom on the other. However as South Africa has proven time and again, there are few government interests that are not a serious cause for concern

  • Willie - 2012-02-13 19:00

    We already have 4g and LTE here in the US and all it's done is enabled the carriers to price gouge the hell out of us.

  • spookhuis - 2012-02-14 08:37

    Ja, and the best Vodacom can offer where I live is Edge. When I asked them they told me to go and get phone numbers ,addresses and GPS co-ordinates from my neighbors. I told them to p1ss off or pay me a salary.

  • Lauden Kirk - 2012-02-14 22:04

    Excuse me we pay premium in this country with third class service. Wake up idiots. Sort your little egotistic cellular networks out.

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