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It took a while for South Africa to embrace the speed that 4G LTE offers, but the latest generation of the mobile technology is already on the horizon. MTN, together with infrastructure giant Ericsson today launched their 5G technology and applications trial at the latter’s HQ in Johannesburg.
The trial itself won’t be felt by South Africans just yet, but it does become the continent’s first test of the technology, which promises faster speeds than 4G LTE, lower latency, and better coverage for high density areas.
Initial numbers are promising too.
According to MTN, initial tests saw a throughput of 20Gbps — theoretically around 20 times quicker than 4G LTE. This is, also according to the company, the fastest speed recorded on a mobile network in Africa.
MTN didn’t provide much detail regarding these test conditions — we have contacted the company for further comment — but did state it was run on “commercially available baseband hardware”.
As for its use cases, MTN South Africa’s CTIO Giovanni Chiarelli suggests that 5G will find use in industries stretching from mining to more futuristic fields.
“With 5G, remote healthcare through connected robots could offer world-class surgery in the most remote parts of the continent and the world. Self-driving cars could change the face of road safety, along with smart agriculture, smart mining and smart cities,” he remarked.
As for the eventual rollout of 5G in South Africa, Chiarelli called on government to “urgently release the much-needed spectrum that is required in South Africa, to lower the cost of data and drive growth and development for all South Africans.”
Feature image: Ericsson