On 18 September 2019, network provider rain announced the activation of what is said to be Africa’s first commercial 5G network. The provider is making 5G available to all existing customers in certain parts of Johannesburg and Tshwane. The company has said that this 5G network will help South Africa benefit from reduced data costs and the coming Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).
“Selected customers in rain’s 5G coverage area have been invited to be the first to purchase ultra-fast 5G, unlimited internet for only R1000 per month. rain will deliver a state-of-the-art 5G router to a customer’s home. No installation is required, the router is simply plug-and-play and it will be connected immediately. The speed and capacity of the 5G network, together with the latest WiFi 6 technology in the router, will enable rain users to stream high-definition video to multiple devices simultaneously,” said Khaya Dlanga, Chief Marketing Officer, rain.
According to the network provider, its initial 5G offering will provide affordable, easy-to-install and fast wireless connectivity to businesses and homes as an alternative to ADSL, fixed-LTE and fibre. In the coming weeks, rain aims to open its new offering to all small businesses and homes within the coverage area of Johannesburg and Tshwane. Over the course of 2020, rain will extend the coverage area to major South African metros.
rain is currently leveraging its 4G data networking infrastructure in building its 5G network in its regulated 3600 MHz spectrum band. This will enable the provider to build a cost-effective network and limit the required additional number of sites, but still providing wide coverage. rain claims that the provider will be able to reduce the data cost for South Africans. “Access to affordable, fast broadband is key for the country to revive economic growth,” Dlanga added.
An average 5G connection is able to provide speeds at least 10 times faster than existing 4G/LTE networks. Dlanga has claimed that the provider’s new network was able to reach speeds approaching 700 Mbps. “However, in real-world conditions we expect to see at least 200 Mbps for customers,” Dlanga comments. rain is currently working with Huawei Technologies and WITS University to develop a 5G Innovation Lab. “This exciting space will give young engineers a head-start in developing the new, innovative applications of 5G,” Dlanga explains.
Edited by Kojo Essah
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