MTN 5G Network In South Africa goes live, offering up to 500Mbps speeds

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Today, 30th of June 2020, MTN 5G network in South Africa went live, and the operator became the 3rd network operator after Vodacom Group and Rain in launching the fifth-generation mobile technology in the country.

5G offers higher peak data speeds (of up to between speeds 10x and 100x faster than 4G), ultra-low latency, increased reliability and greater network capacity. MTN South Africa is promising 50Mbps in average speed and 500Mbps maximum speed on its 5G mobile network.

MTN South Africa 5G

MTN South Africa announced that its commercial 5G services have been launched across 100 network towers in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Bloemfontein, Port Elizabeth and other smaller towns.

Available 5G Data Plans On MTN South Africa

Available 5G data plans on MTN South Africa includesix (6) bundle plans, as well as an exclusive Unlimited Data plan that has a 200GB monthly cap. The unlimited plan is valid only until 31 July 2020 though:

MTN - logo

Frequencies Deployed For MTN 5G Network In South Africa

MTN 5G network in South Africa is deployed on four (4) different 5G frequency bands, namely: 3.5GHz, 2100MHz, 700MHz,and 28GHz. The company provided the following breakdown:

  • 3.5GHz at 58 sites: This is the ideal spectrum band for 5G, known as the “golden band”, offering both faster speeds and low latencies. MTN has deployed sites in the 3.5GHz band in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Bloemfontein.
  • 2.1GHz and 1.8GHz at 35 sites: MTN is re-farming some 4G spectrum to allow it to run 4G and 5G spectrum, at the same time, in the same band. This allows for easier migration of network technology from LTE to 5G. It also allows us to deploy 5G using existing spectrum assets in the absence of additional high-demand spectrum. MTN has deployed 5G sites at 2.1GHz in Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth.
  • 700MHz at five sites: This is an excellent band for extensive coverage, making it ideal for use for urban indoor settings and for small towns and rural coverage due to the low-band frequency propagation. Small towns now covered by MTN 5G using 700MHz include Port Alfred, Hopetown, Virginia, Queenstown and Tsantsabane.
  • 28GHz at three sites: This high-frequency bandwidth offers great speeds, making this ideal for fixed-wireless 5G connectivity. This solution has been deployed in Hatfield (Pretoria), Edenvale and Durban.

Available 5G Devices On MTN South Africa

smartphones on mtn 5g network in South africa
Available smartphones on MTN 5G network in South Africa

MTN South Africa is launching its 5G service with a small collection of 5G-ready smartphones. They include:

These 5G smartphones are available from July 1, 2020. 5G Wi-Fi routers are also available from the same day. MTN South Africa says it will continually expand its 5G network to eventually cover the whole country.

Besides the MTN 5G network in South Africa, MTN has conducted 5G demos and trials in Nigeria and will likely be the first 5G network to be launched in the country. During the MTN Nigeria 5G demos in November 2019, speeds of up to 2Gbps were reached. Of course, real life 5G speeds will not be anything close to that when the network finally goes life. However, 5G in Nigeria is still some way in the future, as the Nigerian Communications Commission is yet to issue licenses.

In Uganda, MTN (in partnership with Chinese telecoms equipment manufacturer ZTE) also trialed East Africa’s first 5G network. The 5G demonstrations happened in January 2020. The trial was consucted on the 60Mhz spectrum and clocked speeds of up to 1.5Gbps.

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