MTN finally launched its 5G service on Tuesday after a few false starts. The service provider says it has more than 100 5G sites around the country, including Johannesburg, Cape Town, Bloemfontein and Port Elizabeth.
MTN SA chief executive, Godfrey Motsa, said that the launch was the company stepping up its digital revolution with the next generation of telecommunication technology.
Motsa said that MTM was demonstrating to South Africans that 5G was not just an idea anymore. “It is here, it works and it has the capacity to bring about exponential improvements to our economy and to the lives of the people we serve,” he said.
Data-only service provider Rain was one of the first operators to roll out 5G to customers back in September while Vodacom launched its 5G service last month.
Motsa said the MTN launch of 5G comes on the back of extensive trials and testing and government’s recent move to allocate temporary spectrum.
“For the past two years we have been actively innovating around the potential of 5G, using different bands and various vendors and across different platforms and devices, to ensure MTN SA can maintain leadership in 5G, as we have been able to maintain our leadership in 4G,” said MTN’s head of tech and information, Giovanni Chiarelli.
MTN will be delivering 5G to customers using four different spectral bands, with the “golden band” – the 3.5GHz spectrum – only deployed across 58 sites for now. This band is the ideal location for 5G to operate through.
The company will also be “refarming some 4G spectrum to allow us to run 4G and 5G spectrum, at the same time, in the same band. This allows for easier migration of network technology from LTE to 5G. It also allows us to deploy 5G using existing spectrum assets in the absence of additional high demand spectrum,” Chiarelli said.
Like fibre before it, 5G is promising to unlock the full capabilities of the next generation services such as virtual and augmented reality, the internet of things, artificial intelligence and car automation, MTN said.
MTN also said it has tested its service on cloud gaming platforms and that the results are next-level.
“Cloud gaming means top-line games are available, all the time, in the cloud. No console required, your device becomes the controller and with 5G, the speed and reliability of the signal means you never need to download a game,” MTN’s digital officer, Ernst Fonternel, said.
Watch: How 5G works: the pros and cons