South African multinational operator Vodacom Group has vowed to launch Africa’s first commercial mobile 5G network. According to the company, it will accelerate its rollout by using the temporary spectrum that has been issued. This will help the operator to meet the growing demand in these pandemic times.
Vodacom said in a statement that it has enabled 20 5G sites in Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Cape Town. These sites currently offer mobile and fixed wireless access (FWA) services.
The operator used the 50MHz temporary spectrum on the 3.5GHz band allocated by regulator ICASA to speed up its 5G launch and further mitigate increased traffic during the outbreak. According to the operator, it has a 40% increase in mobile traffic since the lockdown commenced in South Africa.
Shameel Joosub, CEO of Vodacom, said the timing of the launch of the service in South Africa was “very important as it will help us to improve network efficiency in times of emergency…this is largely due to ICASA’s allocation of temporary spectrum, which has eased the network congestion we have experienced since the start of the lockdown period”.
Vodacom says it will expand its services as more smartphones, Wi-Fi, and FWA routers enter the market. The carrier currently offers the LG V50 ThinQ 5G smartphone and Huawei 5G CPE Pro router.
After signing a roaming agreement earlier this year using Liquid Telecom’s 3.5GHz spectrum, the operator outlined its ambition to launch a 5G network. In 2018, Vodacom claimed to have launched the first 5G service in Africa by deploying FWA in Lesotho.