Mobile operator Vodacom has launched what it calls “Africa’s first live 5G mobile network” in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town.
In a statement on Monday, Vodacom said it plans to roll out 5G in other parts of the country. The network, which supports both mobile and fixed wireless services, is currently available on 20 live 5G sites, 18 of which are in Gauteng and 2 in Cape Town.
Vodacom customers can immediately access the network if they have 5G-enabled devices and are within an area covered by 5G.
The Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA) recently assigned temporary spectrum to mobile operators for use during the national state of disaster, thereby enabling Vodacom to launch the network sooner.
The rollout also enables Vodacom to manage the 40 percent increase in mobile network traffic and the 250 percent increase in fixed traffic it has reported during the COVID-19 lockdown.
The operator’s CEO Shameel Joosub said, “Vodacom’s 5G launch in South Africa comes at an important time as it will help us improve our network efficiency during the COVID-19 national state of disaster.”
“During this difficult and unprecedented period, we are proud to offer world class network technology to South Africa, and all of its associated benefits, as we provide an essential service to keep the country connected.”
Vodacom 5G coverage
Customers can check Vodacom’s 5G coverage area via an easy-to-use interface on its website. The company said it will use its existing 4G tariffs for both mobile and fixed 5G and will announce special 5G tariffs “in due course.”
The operator added, “Vodacom expects to expand its initial 5G rollout as more smartphones, WiFi and fixed wireless access routers become available.
“The current 5G network equipment deployed also operates in the same frequency bands which are expected to be permanently assigned through an auction later in the year.”
In his State of the Nation Address in February, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that ICASA will conduct the spectrum licensing auction before the end of 2020.
Finance Minister Tito Mboweni gave further details about the auction in his Budget speech shortly afterwards, touting it as a much-needed economic reform measure.
He said, “The spectrum licensing plan was released in November, preparing the way for auctioning high-demand spectrum. ICASA will be appropriately capacitated for this. A voucher system will be introduced to allow households to acquire digital devices.”