MTN said it’s conducting the first 5G technology and applications trial in Africa at its head office in South Africa. The indoor trial was conducted in partnership with Ericsson at MTN’s Johannesburg head office, with an outdoor trial planned for later in the year. A commercial pilot is expected to start in 2019 or 2020.
The 5G trial achieved a throughput of more than 20Gbps with less than 5ms latency, which is the highest achieved on a mobile network in Africa, MTN said. The trial is based on commercially-available baseband hardware that supports 5G mobility.
The 4G network will form the basis on which MTN will build its new 5G network, says Babak Fouladi, group chief technology and information officer at MTN. The operator’s existing 4G network, with over 800 sites already installed and more planned for 2018, is being rolled out as 5G-ready. All the equipment being installed for the 4G network can be quickly upgraded for 5G as soon as spectrum and devices are available.
MTN SA’s network includes more than 12,000 3G sites and more than 8,000 4G sites. This means that 3G coverage is available to 97 percent of the population, and 4G reaches more than 70 percent.
MTN has received a temporary licence for 800MHz of spectrum in the 15GHz band to conduct its 5G trials.