Is the 5G network available in Africa? | Salaam Footbridge


Posted on November 08, 2021 via BizWatchNigeria – As the telecom world gradually embraces advanced technologies, BizWatch Nigeria provides insight into the state’s plan to roll out fifth generation (5G) in selected countries in Africa.

A track of major 5G rollout plans in Africa showed that less than 10 countries are taking steps to deploy the technology that provides fast internet access.

However, the GSM Association has estimated that there will be over one million 5G mobile connections in sub-Saharan Africa by the end of 2022 and 30 million connections by 2025.

Let’s explore what is happening in Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, Mauritius and Kenya with regards to 5G testing, regulation, spectrum and commercialization.

Nigeria

* Regulator: Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC)
* Spectrum status: Spectrum will be auctioned in December 2021
* Key spectrum: 3.5 GHz
* Commercial launch outlook: MTN and Airtel expect commercial launch in 2022

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) plans to auction 3.5 Gigahertz spectrum for the deployment of 5G technology on December 13.

This was after spectrum trading guidelines were revised and 5G trials were conducted by MTN in the country.

The NCC has also set a reserved price of $197.4 million or 75 billion naira for the spectrum.

The telecommunications regulator has also provided information, conditions, obligations, financial implications, deadlines and other necessary details on the planned 3.5 Ghz spectrum auction.

Mauritius

* Regulator: ICT Authority (ICTA)
* Spectrum status: 5G spectrum licenses issued to three mobile operators – MyT Mobile, Emtel and Mahanagar Telecom – in June 2021
* Key spectrum: 2.6 GHz and 3.5 GHz
* Commercial launch prospects: MyT Mobile launched 5G in July; Others did not launch

The Mauritian telecommunications regulator, ICT Authority (ICTA), in June this year issued 5G licenses to three mobile operators.

However, Mauritius did not auction the licenses but invited three mobile operators MyT Mobile, Emtel and Mahanagar Telecom to request the radio spectrum which will be used to deploy the 5G networks.

A total of 300 MHz of radio spectrum in the 2.6 GHz and 3.5 GHz bands has been made available by the regulator.

Each operator was asked to specify their preferred frequency blocks and indicate their network coverage commitments.

Operators were also asked to disclose their timelines for achieving specific percentages of network coverage for mainland Mauritius as well as the outer islands.

A month after the licensing, MyT Mobile launched its 5G services in the Ebene, Trianon, Bagatelle and Reduit regions of the country.

Mauritius Telecom’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Sherry Singh, said the operator is among the first to launch 5G in Africa.

“With the launch of the four MyT 5G Experience Zones, Mauritius Telecom is the first operator to deploy the 5th generation mobile network in Mauritius,” he said in a statement.

South Africa

* Regulator: Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA)
* Spectrum status: temporary 5G licenses issued to operators until November 30, 2021
* Key spectrum: 2.6 GHz and 3.5 GHz
* Commercial launch prospects: MTN, Vodacom and Rain have deployed non-standalone and commercial standalone 5G networks

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) released the Emergency Spectrum in April 2021 to respond to the surge in demand for broadband services due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The regulator said high-demand spectrum was freed up to reduce network congestion, maintain good quality broadband services and allow licensees to lower the cost of access to consumers.

ICASA had, over the past four months, engaged some operators in a legal battle over its spectrum auction process.

The parties have agreed to an out-of-court settlement, but so far no comprehensive settlement has been reached.

Analysts believe this ongoing legal battle will delay spectrum licensing for 5G until 2022.

However, Vodacom and MTN have used the temporary spectrum to roll out 5G services but from December both operators will no longer have temporary spectrum to use.

Rain South Africa, a mobile broadband data service provider, has been allocated 30 MHz in the 2.6 GHz band. The operator has rolled out 5G data services to customers in major centers in Cape Town and Johannesburg. She also signed a roaming agreement with Vodacom.

Kenya

* Regulator: Kenya Communications Authority (UCC)
* Spectrum status: 5G spectrum will be auctioned by August 2022
* Key spectrum: 3.5 GHz
* Commercial launch outlook: 5G commercial launch planned for December 2022

The Communications Authority of Kenya plans to issue 5G licenses to mobile network operators by December 2022.

According to a new draft policy outlining the 5G implementation roadmap, the regulator plans to begin 3.5 giga-Hertz (GHz) 5G trial networks by December.

The regulator is also planning a 5G summit in January 2022, and the implementation of 5G pilots is expected to begin in May.

Safaricom has already started 5G trials after unveiling 15 sites, with plans to increase the number to 200 by the end of 2021 for commercial rollout.

Airtel also announced an upgrade of more than 600 sites in a bid to make them 5G ready.

Uganda

* Regulator: Uganda Communications Commission (UCC)
* Spectrum Status: Spectrum band review in preparation for 5G
* Key spectrum: none at this time
* Commercial launch prospects: MTN Uganda conducted a 5G trial

UCC, in consultation with industry, is reviewing frequency band plans for 5G. The Ugandan government is working with other industry players to establish the first technology testbed in the country.

Former Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) Chief Executive Godfrey Mutabazi had said that the commission was working to ensure that proper infrastructure was in place to support 5G.

MTN Uganda in partnership with Chinese company ZTE last year in January showcased a standalone (SA) 5G network under the 60 MHz spectrum bandwidth with an actual throughput of over 1.494 Gbps.

Why is 5G important?

Experts note that 5G technology is important for the fourth industrial revolution and will not bode well for Nigeria and the whole of Africa to be left behind.

Already, advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality, Internet of Things, drone technology and augmented reality are being used for business processes and increasing efficiency in different sectors of the economy.

However, experts note that the seamless application of these technologies can only be achieved with the support of connectivity provided by 5G technology.

As companies seek to optimize processes and increase efficiency, they said technology could boost e-government, e-health, e-logistics and e-agriculture initiatives.

The GSMA had advised Nigeria and other countries in sub-Saharan Africa to use 5G to improve critical areas of the economy.

Specifically, the report titled “Regional Spotlights: Impact of 5G mmWave,” states that 5G technology, when applied to logistics, would reduce costs and improve efficiency in port operations.

GSMA analysts said the technology would have a huge impact on transport logistics infrastructure such as land transport hubs and seaports as well as the manufacturing, mining and agricultural sectors.

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