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MTN, Ericsson Take 5G on the Road

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The introduction of 5G services might be some way off in Africa, but that doesn't mean there aren't tests and trials worth doing in 2018.

Just ask MTN South Africa. The mobile operator has just undertaken an interesting demonstration of what the next generation wireless technology can achieve with one its vendor partners, mobile networks giant Ericsson. (See MTN to Trial 5G in South Africa with Ericsson and MTN Hits 20 Gbit/s in 5G Trial but Needs Spectrum.)

The partners set up a live feed over a trial 5G network (100MHz of spectrum in the 28GHz band) that connected terminals mounted on a car speeding around on a skid pan at the Gerotek testing facility in Pretoria. The demo set-up comprised four radio units, baseband equipment, a 5G user equipment (UE) prototype with an external antenna, a vehicle with the 5G UE installed, a 4K video camera and a virtual reality (VR) headset.

An audience was able to "view the driver's surroundings whilst moving around the track, allowing them to experience what the driver was seeing, in real time," noted Ericsson in a media release about the trial.

And to take things a step further, and to show the low latency being provided for the video feed, the driver's windscreen was then fully obscured, "leaving him to navigate the track using the live feed from a 4K video camera to his VR headset."

According to Ericsson and MTN, the demonstration showed that video was delivered over a 5G mobile broadband connection of up to 1.6 Gbit/s with latency of less than 5 milliseconds.

"5G presents an opportunity for operators to improve their existing consumer businesses and address previously untapped value chains in the digitalization of industries," noted Rafiah Ibrahim, Head of Ericsson Middle East and Africa. "The collaboration between MTN South Africa and Ericsson has led to an exploration of a variety of use cases and applications for digital transformation of industries. These include the automotive, mining, transportation, agriculture, manufacturing and utilities sectors. We are proud to be demonstrating this use case with MTN."

"At MTN Business, we are very excited to have demonstrated our IoT capabilities, enabled by 5G technology, to our top tier customers," added Wanda Matandela, Chief Business Enterprise Officer, MTN SA. "Using pilots like this, we are not only assessing and preparing our network to roll out 5G in the future, but we are also future-proofing our infrastructure to enrich customer experience and take industries to the next level," she added.

"There are great opportunities for both the private and public sectors to join us as we forge ahead, harnessing the power of technology to unlock applications that can optimise enterprise efficiency and improve the delivery of services. This demonstration supports our vision of leading the delivery of a bold, new digital world for our enterprise customers," concluded Matandela.

MTN is also exploring 5G opportunities with Huawei and ZTE. (See MTN Takes Its 5G Tests Outdoors and MTN Teams Up With ZTE for 5G.)

— Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading for Connecting Africa.

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