Connecting Africa is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 3099067.


Comsol & Samsung Turn On 5G Pilot in South Africa

Article Image
A pilot 5G network operated by South African enterprise communications service provider Comsol using Samsung network infrastructure has been switched on in the Soweto township to provide 5G-based fixed wireless access.

This next-generation network trial has been in the making for a while. Back in May, Comsol announced that it was working with Samsung and the US operator Verizon to bring 5G connection to South Africa. Verizon has been undertaking extensive trials of 5G fixed wireless services on the 28GHz millimeter spectrum in the US, working with Samsung, and so has been able to provide valuable insight into the process as well as further validate Samsung's 5G technology, especially as Comsol is using the same spectrum band -- it has the largest share of continuous spectrum in the 28GHz band in South Africa.

Not many details of the trial have been made public, though we do know that it delivered a download speed of 1.7 Gbit/s.

The current trial by Comsol is clearly targeted at the fixed wireless broadband use case of 5G. As Comsol's CEO Iain Stevenson said at the launch of the pilot, "This [trial] opens the doors to a new world, one where ubiquitous, high-speed networks deliver digital services to millions of citizens at low costs." Comsol plans to launch commercial 5G services in South Africa before the end of 2019, targeting enterprises and consumers alike.

However, this may well be part of Comsol's overall 5G ambition to deliver services that meet other customer needs, particularly "massive" IoT. The company is proud of the IoT infrastructure for enterprise customers it launched in 2017, which it claims to be Africa's largest low-power wide-area network (LPWAN).

Although in most parts of Africa operators are still busy rolling out 4G, or even 3G connections, in pockets of the continent 5G R&D is underway, especially in South Africa. The day before Comsol's network went live, Vodacom showcased its 5G network. The demo was set up using Huawei hardware, promoting virtual reality capabilities among other use cases, and achieved an impressively low latency of 9ms. Prior to this, in late August, Vodacom laid claim to launching Africa's first commercial 5G network in land-locked Lesotho. (See Vodacom boasts Africa's first 5G service.)

Such developments, though, are only baby steps at the start of a very long 5G journey that will require network operators to address multiple networking and operational challenges in an effort to deliver a full 5G experience. (See Piecing Together the 5G Big Picture.)

Wei Shi, Site Editor, Connecting Africa

Innovation hub


Africa can leverage GenAI for economic growth – Microsoft

A whitepaper on generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) and the future of work has found that the African continent, with its young population, can leverage AI to drive economic growth.

Registration opens for Africa Tech Festival 2024

Registration has opened for the 2024 edition of Africa Tech Festival, the continent's leading platform for technology innovators, specialists and thought leaders.

More Innovation hub

Latest video

More videos

Partner perspectives

All Partner Perspectives

Sponsored video

More videos

Follow us on X

Industry announcements

More Industry announcements

Upcoming events

Cyber Revolution Summit
August 9, 2024
Gaborone, Botswana
Africa Tech Festival 2024
November 11-14, 2024
Cape Town, South Africa
More Upcoming events

Africa Tech Perspectives


Uber's Marjorie Saint-Lot on inclusion and sustainability in Africa

Uber's Country Manager for Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire, Marjorie Saint-Lot, shares how the ride-hailing company is approaching public-private partnerships, environmentally friendly initiatives and gender inclusion in Africa.


The 100 most influential African leaders in 2023

A new report from Africa Tech Festival and Connecting Africa puts a spotlight on the top 100 African leaders in the telecoms and technology sector in 2023.


Deep dive into East Africa's tech startup ecosystem

New survey reveals a lack of access to investors, reliance on international VCs and global recession trends as the biggest barriers for East African tech startups to access funds.

More Africa Tech perspectives

Guest Perspectives


How e-mobility could transform Africa's transport sector

By Francis Hook

ICT analyst Francis Hook delves into Africa's e-mobility sector and unpacks the challenges faced locally and the benefits the move to electric vehicles could bring to urban transport systems.


Omdia View: April 2024

By Omdia Analysts

April 2024's telecoms highlights in the Middle East and Africa included a license for Starlink in Ghana, new mobile termination rates in Ethiopia, and 6G trials in Bahrain – that and more in the latest Omdia View.

More Guest Perspectives

Like us on Facebook

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign Up
Tag id test-002