by MTHULISI SIBANDA in Pretoria
PRETORIA – THE continent’s first live outdoor 5th generation (5G) wireless systems field trial has been launched in South Africa with renewed calls for government to allocate high-demand spectrum.
MTN, the mobile operator, and technology solutions provider launched the field trial in Hatfield suburb in the capital Pretoria on Tuesday.
The historic trial came on the back of continual calls by local mobile operators for more spectrum allocation in South Africa.
“Spectrum is the lifeblood of any mobile network operator,” said Ryan Van Den Bergh, the Radio Access Network (RAN) Technical Specialist at MTN SA.
Similar calls were made when MTN and Ericsson the first 5G trial the former’s headquarters in Johannesburg in January.
Spectrum is an emotive issue in South Africa.
Government in 2016 threatened legal action against the Independent Communications Authority (ICASA) after it launched the auction for 700MHz, 800MHz and 2.6GHz spectrum licences.
Then, Telecommunications and Postal Services Minister, Siyabonga Cwele, said government had not established policy direction on spectrum thus ICASA failed to adhere to legislation and regulations.
Meanwhile, the field trial in Hatfield demonstrated a 5G Fixed-Wireless Access (FWA) use case with Huawei’s 5G 28GHz mmWave Customer Premises Equipment (CPE) in a real-world environment.
Speeds of 520 Megabits per second (Mbps) downlink and 77 Mbps uplink were attained throughout respectively.
“These 5G trials provide us with an opportunity to future proof our network and prepare it for the evolution of these new generation networks,” said Babak Fouladi, MTN Group Chief Technology and Information Systems Officer.
Giovanni Chiarelli, MTN SA Chief Technology and Information Officer, said MTN and Huawei’s joint field trial of the first 5G mmWave Fixed-Wireless Access solution in Africa would also pave the way for a fixed-wireless access solution that is capable of replacing conventional fixed access technologies, such as fibre.
Edward Deng, President of Wireless Network Product Line of Huawei, said the company continued investing significantly in innovative 5G technologies.
5G mmWave technology could achieve unprecedented fiber-like speed for mobile broadband access, deng said, adding the trial had shown the capabilities of 5G technology to deliver exceptional user experience for Enhanced Mobile Broadband applications.
“With customer-centric innovation in mind, Huawei will continue to partner with MTN to deliver best-in-class advanced wireless solutions,” Deng said.