South Africa’s Vodacom claims the bragging rights as the first telecom to deploy 5G internet services in Africa. The Vodacom 5G internet went live for the first time on Saturday, August 25 in Lesotho.
The telecom said it will be able to provide the 5G internet to its home market once the country’s telecommunications regulator assigns them the spectrum. Vodacom, the biggest telecom operator by market value in South Africa, said that the new 5G internet will provide Lesotho with “fiber-like” internet speeds. Lesotho is a land-locked and very mountainous kingdom.
Lesotho has a population of about two million people, and Vodacom said it was assigned the 3.5GHz band, which enabled it to deploy the 5G internet service commercially.
“What we’ve accomplished in Lesotho is an example of what can be achieved in Africa, should the requisite spectrum also be made available,” said Shameel Joosub, the CEO of Vodacom Group.
As for South Africa, a country that has for long been referred to Africa’s most industrialized economy, Vodacom says its customers will have to wait a little longer as they (the telecom) work on acquiring the 3.5GHz spectrum licensing.
In March this year, the SA’s telecommunications ministry said the allotment of the 3.5GHz frequency spectrum will happen somewhere between the Q1 of 2019. They also admit there was a lot of anticipation in the market from various stakeholders for the regulator to make the allotments.
The ministry blames the delay to the wrangles between government departments, which have seen SA lag behind even lesser industrialized economies on the continent with regards to deployment of 5G networks.
The said 5G network offers mobile internet connection speeds that are 50 to 100 times that of current 4G networks. It comes with greater support for heavy online and cloud computing and ideal of data-hungry users who also need faster speeds.