MTN launches 5G network

30th June 2020 By: Natasha Odendaal - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

Telecommunications group MTN has launched its fifth-generation (5G) network, with 100 sites live across areas in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Bloemfontein and Port Elizabeth.

During a live-streamed launch event, MTN South Africa CEO Godfrey Motsa said that 5G will deliver higher peak data speeds, ultra-low latency, increased reliability and greater network capacity.

“5G is more than 10 times faster than fourth-generation (4G), 5G has over 100 times the capacity that you have on 4G and everything will be in real time now,” he explained, highlighting 5G’s latency and reliability.

This followed the release of temporary spectrum by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) earlier this year, as well as extensive 5G trials and testing.

“Icasa gave us the 5G spectrum, and while its temporary, it provides the opportunity to demonstrate to all South Africans that 5G is no longer just an idea – it is here, it works and it has the capacity to bring about exponential improvements to our economy, and to the lives of the people we serve,” he said.

MTN’s rollout of its 5G network will be ramped up to more sites once government allocates permanent spectrum through the planned auction later this year.

“If we can get the spectrum, we can cover over 10-million South Africans within 12 months.”

“We are extremely encouraged by the release of the temporary spectrum. Our call to the regulator and government is to release permanent 4G and 5G spectrum as a matter of urgency, so that we can fuel the digital revolution our nation needs to bridge the digital divide that currently deepens the gap between the haves and the have-nots,” Motsa commented.

MTN has deployed sites in the 3.5 GHz band across 58 sites in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Bloemfontein; 2 100 MHz and 1 800 MHz at 35 sites in Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth; 700 MHz at 5 sites in small towns, namely Port Alfred, Hopetown, Virginia, Queenstown and Tsantsabane; and 28 GHz at 3 sites in Hatfield, Edenvale and Durban.

“For the past two years we have been actively innovating around the potential of 5G, using different bands and various vendors and across different platforms and devices, to ensure MTN South Africa can maintain leadership in 5G, as we have been able to maintain our leadership in 4G,” says MTN South Africa chief technology and information officer Giovanni Chiarelli.

MTN undertook its first 5G trial in January 2018, with its first outdoor trial in May 2018.

In June 2018, MTN conducted its first mobility trial.

“Our ambitions are bold. We might be starting small, but ultimately, we want every South African to experience 5G. It will change the way we work and play. We can develop a new ecosystem of services,” added MTN South Africa chief consumer officer Mapula Bodibe.

The new technology will be available as 5G home WiFi, a home-connected plug and play solution connecting WiFi-enabled devices, and 5G Mobile, connected to the 5G network.

MTN is offering data packages between 75 GB to 500 GB ranging in price from R699 to R1 599 on a 24-month sim-only contract and between R499 and R1 299 on a 36-month sim-only contract

Also on offer are 24-month and 36-month unlimited data plans, including a 5G router, priced at R999 and R1 249 a month respectively, with a fair use policy of 200 GB.