5G is increasingly being rolled out in South Africa.
September 2019 saw the arrival of the first 5G network on South African shores – powered by data-only mobile operator Rain. 5G – or 5th Generation – is the newest iteration of mobile data standards. 5G is roughly ten times faster than 4G and a hundred times faster than 3G.
Rain began its rollout in parts of Johannesburg and Tshwane – while Vodacom expanded coverage in May 2020 to Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Pretoria; closely followed by MTN in June 2020 who included sites in Bloemfontein and Port Elizabeth.
There are two bands of 5G in South Africa, being rolled out in phases:
- Microwave band. Here we have 4-5 different frequencies used by the different networks in SA. They all range from about 700MHz up to 5-6GHz. These are mostly rolled out already and are more harmful than 4G due to the increased power and complex modulation. The 5G phones & contracts from Vodacom & MTN use these bands at present – on the 3.5 GHz frequency.
- Millimeter wave bands (phase 2) are still in progress in SA. This uses 24GHz up to 100GHz (and eventually 300GHz). These don’t travel far and don’t penetrate solid objects. They do, however, get absorbed by the skin, insects and plants. Here they will mostly use the LED street lights as bases as they must be closer to you and must be every 100m or so to be effective. This is where the beaming comes into play – where a beam of high powered radiation is deployed to pinpoint a user or device to enable higher powered and faster connections. You receive this radiation and the technology is built into the transmitter of newer cell phones. It is already partly operational in some areas in the cities including Cape Town.
MTN has pledged to have 25% coverage of 5G in South Africa by the end of the year, and 60% by 2025. This will also see the decommissioning of MTN’s 3G network in preference of 4G and 5G. This will mean a lot more cellphone towers and the building of additional infrastructure.
Check if your area is 4G and/or 5G covered here.
Read More Here:
McLeod, D. 2022. MTN promises 60% 5G coverage in South Africa by 2025. Available: https://techcentral.co.za/mtn-promises-60-5g-coverage-in-south-africa-by-2025
Oneyibo, O. 2021. South Africa’s 5G network might be on shaky ground; here’s why. Available: https://techpoint.africa/2021/09/07/south-africa-5g-shaky
Tomas, J. 2020. MTN launches commercial 5G network in South Africa. Available: https://www.rcrwireless.com/20200701/5g/mtn-launches-commercial-5g-network-south-africa
Bottomley, E. 2020. Here’s what you need to know about 5G in SA – including what it costs and where to find it. Available: https://www.businessinsider.co.za/here-is-what-you-need-to-know-about-5g-in-sa-2020-5
ICASA. 2021. The State of 5G in South Africa: From Readiness to Recommendations. Available: https://www.icasa.org.za/uploads/files/ICASA-2021-5G-Annual-Report.pdf