The balance between 4G and 5G
Nokia and Vodacom have partnered to trial 5G technology in South Africa, which will support Vodacom’s objective of being the first network to launch 5G in the country. Nokia will share its 5G innovations with Vodacom, including massive MIMO Adaptive Antennas, AirScale Radio Access, AirGile Cloud-native Core, and Multi-Access Edge Computing. Discussing the 5G trial with BizNews, Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub said it is important to do the trials to learn from live testing.
“It is beneficial from a learning perspective, because we have to ready our networks and make the right decisions today, even though 5G is still some time away,” he said. Joosub said Vodacom has always been on the cutting edge of adopting new technologies – like 2G, 3G, and 4G – and it will be good to be a world leader again with 5G.
Joosub said that 5G has a benefit over 4G in South Africa, as 5G spectrum is available to operators. The government’s delay in completing the digital migration programme, and providing additional spectrum to operators, has hurt 4G services in the country.
This does not mean 5G can replace 4G in South Africa, however. Joosub said that 5G uses higher-frequency spectrum, which is great at increasing capacity, but less so at providing vast coverage. The lack of indoor penetration of higher frequencies means that 4G networks with lower frequencies are still needed for good coverage in South Africa.
“You need 4G to penetrate indoors, and you need 5G to provide additional capacity,” said Joosub.