by SAVIOUS KWINIKA
JOHANNESBURG – THE fourth generation of broadband cellular network technology (4G) and Long Term Evolution (LTE) will continue playing a massive role for Africa’s digital and economic development even as the continent embraces 5G at a greater scale.
This is according to a global executive who urged African operators not to be tempted to discard 4G and LTE as the world adopts 5G at a rapid pace.
Dr Mohamed Madkour, Vice President, Global Carrier Network Solutions and Marketing at Huawei, was speaking at a roundtable on the periphery of AfricaCom, the continent’s largest technology conference, in Cape Town.
“4G has done great stuff for people around the world,” he said.
“There are a lot of companies that could only be created because of 4G, with trillions of dollars added to the global economy,” Madkour said.
He said the same was true in Africa, where the rollout of 5G was still in its infancy.
“5G has only been around for three years and we’ve barely scratched the surface. One of the important lessons that the continent can learn from the rest of the world, he believes, is that having a strong 4G network makes rolling out 5G a lot simpler,” the executive said.
“The secret of good 5G is inspired by carriers having strong 4G. The optimum user experience is strong 4G and 5G,” Madkour said.
In Africa, 4G has been great but penetration is still around 50 percent.
“5G is tiny. 4G still needs to grow, and then we can put 5G on top in places that make sense,” Madkour said.
“Any investment right now in strengthening 4G will actually reduce the investment needed in 5G,” he added.
The executive therefore urged operators to continue with the deployment of 4G to avoid a dramatic change of equipment when it comes to switching over to 5G.
“5G is just a continuation and of your existing capability,” Madkour told operators.
Eventually, African carriers will have to roll out 5G to ensure that people and businesses on the continent are able to be globally competitive.
In order to do that, he said the continent would ensure it focused on the 5G services that would make the most sense for own capabilities as well as customers’ needs and locations.
“No carrier can implement 5G with everything. For the launch to be successful, there has to be a plan to make money,” Madkour said.
He also believes that if Africa is to see maximum benefit from 5G, stakeholders are important, including governments, which have a role to play in ensuring that spectrum licenses are issued.
“The industry needs a lot of investment from everybody,” he said.
In addition to 5G being faster, it has higher bandwidth than existing networks.
– CAJ News