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.

4G/5G

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

Story

Hot startup of the month: Pan-African fintech KamaPay

This month's hot startup is pan-African fintech KamaPay, which helps individuals and businesses make cross-border payments on the continent.

Story

Afretec awards $3.3M in grants to African research teams

The African Engineering and Technology Network (Afretec) has awarded grants worth $300,000 each to 11 university research teams across Africa to advance digital technologies.

More Innovation hub

Latest video

More videos

Sponsored video

More videos

Industry announcements

More Industry announcements

Flash poll

All polls

Africa Tech Perspectives

Story

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.

Story

Challenges and opportunities for women's tech careers

A new survey reveals that COVID-19, the cost-of-living crisis, skills shortages and a lack of mentorship have negatively affected women's career development over the past two years.

Story

Survey: Opportunities for Women in Tech

Take our new survey for women across Asia, Europe and Africa looking at the biggest challenges and opportunities for women-led enterprises and trends in tech careers for women.

More AfricaCom perspectives

Upcoming events

London Tech Week
June 13-16, 2023
Queen Elizabeth II Centre, Broad Sanctuary, London SW1P 3EE
Cybertech Africa 2023
August 1-2, 2023
Kigali Convention Center, Kigali, Rwanda
Africa Tech Festival, Home of AfricaCom and AfricaTech
November 13-16, 2023
CTICC, Cape Town
More Upcoming events

Guest Perspectives

Story

Omdia View: February 2023

By Omdia Analysts

In February 2023 key events in the Middle East and Africa included a major Internet project for Africa's underserved by Liquid Intelligent Technologies and Microsoft as well as a 5G launch in Tanzania – that and more in this month's Omdia View.

Story

Omdia View: July 2022

By Omdia Analysts

Kenya and Zambia move towards 5G with new spectrum allocations while Tunisie Telecom plans to shut down its 3G network - that and more in this month's Omdia View.

More Guest Perspectives

Partner perspectives

All Partner Perspectives

Like us on Facebook

Newsletter Sign Up


Sign Up