MTN and Ericsson begin first 5G customer trial deployment in South Africa

MTN South Africa and Ericsson have announced the first 5G customer trial deployment in South Africa 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.

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. Many of the Netstar employees can also connect to this trial 5G network through the different WiFi access points.

Giovanni Chiarelli, CTIO MTN South Africa says: “We have been working in close partnership with Ericsson on 5G for tests in the lab, field trials, and now initial customer test deployment. Throughout this process, our customers and their service requirements are our top priority. Our aim is to build a network to cater for current and future required services."

Chiarelli noted that the current discussion regarding the imminent release of much-needed additional spectrum, should also include 5G spectrum in the primary 3.5 GHz band.

“ICASA has a great opportunity to get South Africa on par and in some instances, ahead of the international game, by allocating 5G spectrum at the same time as the additional 4G spectrum. The additional 4G spectrum will extend high speed internet access to all South Africans and will help to further drive down the cost of communication. 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.

In addition to facilitating the delivery of next-generation mobile broadband, cloud and providing support for massive Internet of Things (IoT) deployment, this collaboration will also enable new industry use cases thanks to increased throughput and reduced latency.

Rafiah Ibrahim, Head of Ericsson Middle East and Africa says: “5G holds immense potential of opportunities, driving the industry’s digitization and the pursuit of 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.”

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