Vodacom has become the first mobile network operator to bring 5G to Africa with the launch of mobile and fixed wireless services in three South African cities.
Vodacom subscribers will be able to access 5G services in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town, and Vodacom has plans to scale out its 5G network across the rest of the country later this year.
Vodacom was recently granted temporary access to spectrum by the country’s telecoms regulator, ICASA, for the duration of the Covid 19 lockdown. This included one 50 MHz block in the 3.5 GHz band, which has been used to fast-track the companies 5G launch.
The move makes Vodacom the first operator to activate temporary spectrum in South Africa, allowing it to alleviate the network congestion caused by the Covid 19 lockdown. Vodacom and Liquid Telecom concluded managed network services and national roaming agreements for a national 5G network in December 2019.
Vodacom claims that the deployment of 5G services will help it manage the 40 per cent increase in mobile network traffic and the 250 per cent increase in fixed traffic experienced during the COVID-19 lockdown.
“Vodacom’s 5G launch in South Africa comes at an important time as it will help us improve our network efficiency during the COVID-19 national state of disaster. During this difficult and unprecedented period, we are proud to offer world class network technology to South Africa, and all of its associated benefits, as we provide an essential service to keep the country connected. This is largely due to the allocation of temporary spectrum by ICASA which has already mitigated the network congestion we have experienced since the start of the lockdown period,” said Shameel Joosub, Vodacom Group CEO.