Vodacom Launches 5G in Northern Cape with ICASA’s Temporary Spectrum

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Vodacom Central Region has become the first network provider to launch a 5G mobile network in Kimberly, Northern Cape province of South Africa. The new 5G network supports both mobile and fixed wireless access services.

Customers of the carrier with 5G enabled devices, and within a 5G coverage area, are now able to access the new 5G network in Northern Cape province.

In May 2020, Vodacom switched on South Africa’s first live 5G mobile network in three cities – Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town. This network supports both mobile and fixed wireless services and is currently available in Free State, Gauteng, Western Cape, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu Natal provinces.

To launch the 5G network in Northern Cape, Vodacom used the temporary spectrum assigned by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), specifically 1×50 MHz in the 3.5 GHz band.

Vodacom says in a statement that it has decided to use the 700 MHz band for wide-scale mobile, 5G coverage and is supplementing network capacity with 3.5 GHz where required.

“The team and I are delighted to become the first network provider to roll out the fastest 5G network in Northern Cape province. As the leading network provider in South Africa, we have always been committed to investing in the latest networks to give our customers access to networks that provide fast speeds,” says Evah Mthimunye, Managing Executive for Vodacom Central Region.

“Critically, the latest mobile networking technology will ultimately help the region bridge the digital divide between the urban and rural areas of the province by extending access to affordable mobile broadband, especially as an alternative to fibre connectivity in underserviced township areas.”

The Fifth Generation of Wireless Mobile Network

Short for the ‘fifth generation’ wireless mobile network, 5G is the newest iteration of our global mobile networking standard.

It promises much higher download and upload speeds, lower latency (the time it takes for a connected service to respond to your command) and far greater capacity, speed and increased coverage.

5G offers three major advantages:

  • Speed: 5G is around 10 times faster than 4G. It is designed to work at average speeds of 150-200Mbps, and peak speeds can reach above 1Gbps. This means people will be able to download a full 4K film in around 3 minutes (compared to over 15 minutes on 4G).
  • Low latency: latency is the time it takes for a device connected to an online service to respond to your inputs or instructions, otherwise known as lag. Reducing this time lag is crucial in making, say, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) applications faster to respond.
  • Huge capacity: this just means that it can handle lots of people and services accessing the network at the same time, even in densely populated areas.

More 5G devices are expected to become accessible to South Africans in future. Already Vodacom says we are seeing the introduction of increasingly cost-effective 5G enabled smartphones around the world, not just in the premium segment but also in the mid-tier segment.


Edited by Luis Monzon
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