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Allocate spectrum or fall behind industry 4.0, SA warned


JOHANNESBURG  – SOUTH Africa must urgently allocate high-demand  spectrum, lest the continent’s most advanced economy fell behind in the fourth industrial revolution.

This is according to MTN South Africa, the mobile operator, as it
announced the first 5G customer trial deployment locally, starting with a fixed wireless access site at technology company Netstar’s headquarters in Midrand.

The field deployment in Midrand, situated between Johannesburg and Tshwane (Pretoria), is part of Ericsson’s continuing efforts to deliver end-to-end 5G capabilities to support MTN South Africa’s growth as well as 5G and enterprise ambitions.

Following the field deployment, MTN is planning to test other 5G use cases.

Giovanni Chiarelli, MTN South Africa Chief Technology and Information Officer, noted the current discussion regarding the imminent release of much-needed additional spectrum should also include 5G spectrum in the primary 3.5 GHz band.

He said regulators has a great opportunity to get South Africa on par and in some instances, ahead of international markets, by allocating 5G spectrum at the same time as the additional 4G spectrum.

The additional 4G spectrum would extend high speed internet access to all South Africans and further drive down the cost of communication, Chiarelli said.

“Access to 5G spectrum will see our nation able to actively participate on the cutting edge of the digital economy and we cannot afford to fall behind the 4th Industrial Revolution,” he said.

The Ericsson 5G solution deployed operates on 28 GHz band with a total operating bandwidth of 100 MHz using Ericsson trial antenna integrated radio units and Intel® 5G Mobile Trial Platform providing Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) in the customer premises.

MTN has partnered with Ericsson on 5G for tests in the lab, field trials before the initial customer test deployment.

Rafiah Ibrahim, Head of Ericsson Middle East and Africa, said 5G held immense potential of opportunities, driving the industry’s digitisation and the pursue for innovation.

“Our collaboration with MTN South Africa will enable us to jointly develop 5G use cases based on real business needs that will support MTN to meet their future business requirements,” Ibrahim said.

Speaking in Cape Town earlier this week, Robert Nkuna, Director General at the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services, said the release and licensing of frequency was at an advanced stage.

It is likely to be concluded in 2019.

– CAJ News

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