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


Connecting Africa Podcast: S2 Ep. 4 – Agri-fintech, from kibbutz to Kenya

The Connecting Africa Podcast team speak to Israeli-Kenyan startup Avenews' co-founder and CEO, Shalom Ben-Or, about his fintech super-app that has been built specifically for Africa's agriculture industry.


Hot startup of the month: Cloud-native developer Deimos

This month's hot startup is pan-African cloud technology and professional services company Deimos which is on a mission to be the leading cloud-native technology company in Africa.

More Innovation hub

Flash poll

All polls

Partner perspectives

All Partner Perspectives

Africa Tech Perspectives


Women in Tech: Spotlight on inclusivity with Digital Council Africa's Juanita Clark

Digital Council Africa founder and CEO, Juanita Clark, talks to Connecting Africa as part of our Women's Month series about her career and what needs to be done to make the tech industry intentionally inclusive.


Women in Tech: Spotlight on legal tech with Life.file's Sinal Govender

Life.file co-founder, Sinal Govender, talks to Connecting Africa as part of our Women's Month series about her career and how we can encourage more young girls to enter the legal tech field.


Digital inclusion as a catalyst for economic empowerment: Mastercard's Imelda Ngunzu

Mastercard's Imelda Ngunzu talks to Connecting Africa about how digital payment solutions and mobile money are transforming the lives of small business owners, women and marginalized groups in East Africa.

More AfricaCom perspectives

Latest video

More videos

Industry announcements

More Industry announcements

Guest Perspectives


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.


Omdia View: June 2022

By Omdia Analysts

5G was the major news trend across Africa in June, as Orange became the first operator to launch 5G in Réunion and operators in Senegal accelerated their 5G plans despite spectrum delays.

More Guest Perspectives

Sponsored video

More videos

Like us on Facebook

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign Up