Citizen reporter
4 minute read
19 Sep 2019
11:44 am

Rain pilots 5G network in SA

Citizen reporter

In the next couple of weeks, rain will open up the offer to all homes and small business within the coverage area of Johannesburg and Tshwane.

A new survey shows the United States and China are the leading nations prepared for ultrafast 5G wireless networks. AFP/File/Pau Barrena

Following the success of its 4G data offerings, local telecommunication network rain activated Africa’s first commercial 5G network by making it available to selected existing customers.

This deployment of a 5G wireless data network, in certain parts of Johannesburg and Tshwane, is one of the first in the world and will help South Africa to benefit from lower data costs and the coming Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).

rain’s Chief Marketing Officer Khaya Dlanga said in a statement: “Selected customers in rain’s 5G coverage area have been invited to be the first to purchase ultra-fast 5G, unlimited internet for only R1,000 per month. rain will deliver a state-of-the-art 5G router to a customer’s home. No installation is required, the router is simply plug-and-play and it will be connected immediately. The speed and capacity of the 5G network, together with the latest WiFi 6 technology in the router, will enable rain users to stream high-definition video to multiple devices simultaneously.”

rain’s initial 5G offering is to provide fast, affordable, and easy-to-install wireless connectivity to homes and businesses as an alternative to ADSL, fibre and fixed-LTE. In the next couple of weeks, rain will open up the offer to all homes and small business within the coverage area of Johannesburg and Tshwane. During the course of 2020, the coverage area will be extended to the major metros in South Africa.

rain is leveraging its 4G data networking infrastructure in building the 5G network in its regulated 3600 MHz spectrum band. This enables rain to build a cost-effective network and limit the required additional number of sites, yet still providing wide coverage. It enables rain to reduce the cost of data for South Africans.

“Access to affordable, fast broadband is key for the country to revive economic growth,” added Dlanga.

5G is the next-generation wireless networking technology and offers considerable advances in speed and capacity. On average 5G can provide speeds at least 10 times faster than existing 4G/LTE networks. Dlanga notes that during testing, rain has seen speeds approaching 700 Mbps in ideal conditions.

“However, in real-world conditions, we expect to see at least 200 Mbps for customers.”

In future, 5G will also power super-fast mobile connectivity for smartphones and enable the connection of millions of internet-of-things (IOT) devices.

Dlanga said that rain was committed to being a key player in building the 5G and 4IR ecosystem in South Africa. This will contribute to the country meeting its socio-economic challenges, particularly reducing unemployment and improving education. As an example, rain is working with WITS University and Huawei Technologies to establish a 5G Innovation Lab.

“This exciting space will give young engineers a head-start in developing the new, innovative applications of 5G,” said Dlanga.

what is 5G

Image: Supplied

What is 5G?

5G is the next generation of wireless data networks. It will bring three major advances:

  1. A massive increase in speed and capacity compared to 4G networks.
  2. The ability to connect millions of internet-of-things (IOT) devices.
  3. Ultra-low latency and ultra-high availability of connections between devices, known as critical machine-to-machine communication.

In future, 5G will also enable critical machine-to-machine communication and ultra-low latency between devices. This makes 5G a key pillar of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).

What can 5G do for South Africa?

rain has launched the African continent’s first commercial 5G network and one of the first in the world. Some of the benefits for South African society are:

• Lower cost of data: improved access to fast broadband encourages
economic growth, which will help alleviate the unemployment crisis in the country.
• As a foundational pillar of the 4IR, 5G networks will support government’s initiatives to ensure South Africa benefits from these technological advances.
• Smarter cities are safer cities. GG’s ability to connect thousands of cameras and other sensors cost-effectively can make our cities more efficient and safer.
• Education can be revolutionised by streaming classes to millions of students. Virtual reality application holds great promise for this sector.
• Critical machine-to-machine communication, together with augmented reality, can create thousands of jobs in South Africa, servicing international markets cost-effectively. And so much more.

(Compiled by Kaunda Selisho.)

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