Nokia has partnered with the South African operator Rain to deploy a 5G site which puts South Africa on the heels of Lesotho, the first country in Africa to roll out the premium speed network.
The full network deployment is set to start in the first quarter of 2019, and services are expected to launch mid-2019 when standards-based 5G NR devices become available in the country.
The launch and subsequent roll-out are well aligned with the government’s strategy to connect the unconnected and improve the lives of citizens, and match rain’s main objective to provide affordable broadband internet to the masses in South Africa.
As an early adopter of 5G, rain will roll out the technology in South Africa, ahead of many other countries globally. During the launch, Nokia and rain will showcase the impact of 5G and how it can provide even remote locations access to high-quality education. The classroom of the future will embrace virtual reality technology run on 5G networks to give South African citizens access to world-class education. This will not only improve the education system in the country, but also stimulate economic growth.
5G promises to enable faster speeds, massive connectivity, decade-long battery life for sensors and super-responsive and reliable networks for customers. This will unleash on-demand virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) experiences, driverless vehicles, medical monitoring, advanced industrial automation services, and so much more – all requiring ubiquitous low latency connectivity.
Lesotho was the first country to roll out the service ahead of expected early starters Nigeria and Kenya. In Kenya, the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) is planning to roll-out a 5G network in 2019, according to its director general, Francis Wangusi who said the new technology will aid in the roll-out of artificial intelligence and blockchain technology.
Several players in the Kenya including Telkom Kenya and Safaricom have in the past considered the launch of 5G in Kenya as gadgets start coming in to the market.
The first commercial 5G roll-outs begin this year and next in the United States, Korea and Japan, and the wireless industry is counting on the new technology to trigger a wave of growth in equipment sales and mobile services.
Telecoms operators are also investing heavily to develop 5G networks for fear of falling behind their competitors. 5G will account for 14 percent of global wireless connections by 2025, according to GSMA, the global mobile operators association.
The cost of rolling out the network is prohibitive. Deutsche Telekom CEO Timotheus Hoettges has estimated the cost of providing 5G networks in Europe alone will be €300-500 billion ($370-615 billion).