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In a virtual launch held today by MTN South Africa and attended by people from around the country, Godfrey Motsa, CEO of MTN SA announced how through the temporary issuing of spectrum from The Industry Compliance and Certification Authority of South Africa (ICCASA) MTN is now able to launch 5G.

Giovanni Chiarelli, Chief Technology & Information Officer for MTN SA explained how a 100 sites had been rolled out in South Africa in terms of 5G, which is 10 times faster than 4G, has 100 times more capacity, works in real time with no lag and is always available. MTN will be offering unlimited plans for their customers and their goal is to connect 10 million people to 5G in 12 months.

The launch highlighted the importance of spectrum and although Covid-19 had fast tracked the release of some spectrum, the auction to be held in November would be of vital importance. Motsa explained, “South Africa will fall behind if we do not release the 5G spectrum now so we can fuel the digital revolution.” But Motsa remained positive and discussed how MTN believed they could enter into a commercial agreement with Government to get the Spectrum needed at the auction, there was no going back.    

Chiarelli also highlighted the process that led to MTN getting ready for 5G as hundreds of different network elements need to be in sync across several domains before the internet can be accessed. “It is a long chain, starting from the device, the spectrum, the access network, the transport network and the core and finally the big internet. All those elements had to be upgraded or modernized or rebuilt from scratch,” said Chiarelli.

Mapula Bodibe, Chief Consumer Officer of MTN SA, explained how MTN will be the first network operator in the Southern Hemisphere to demonstrate a game cloud streaming technology on their 5G network. “Triple A games are going to be available instantly on a mobile device which will become the controller, so you don’t need a console,” said Bodibe.

Sam Wright, a professional gamer, added that with 5G, the cloud technology you can access will enhance your gaming set-ups and allow you to play almost anywhere and do far more from a mobile point of view. “5G is going to change the way we game and allow more people access to video games and the chance to game,” she said.

5G adds value to educational, medical and business arenas through its real time, constant availability and fast speeds. The launch highlighted how the Internet of things can reach its true potential with the high capacity of 5G.

Tech entrepreneurs in Africa, who currently find connectivity as their biggest challenge, will be able to upload their projects quicker, which is vital. Daliso Ngoma, MD of Technopreneurs, who focuses on 360 cameras and virtual reality equipment, explained how 5G, with its low latency, will allow students to watch live surgeries close up on camera, attend virtual museum tours and game drives in an unprecedented way.   

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