To access 5G new cellphones will be required. File Image: IOL
To access 5G new cellphones will be required. File Image: IOL

DURBAN – The upcoming rollout out of 5G broadband in South Africa will mean faster communication on mobile devices says MTN senior specialist in Radio Access Network Ryan van den Bergh.

“Individuals could start experiencing high speeds when using things like virtual reality and high-definition video-streaming.”

He said what may not be apparent are the other applications that would start coming about, enabled by the service.

“They will start seeing a lot more smart city applications and other applications carried over 5G, efficient industries at work, more automation, more capabilities and more driverless vehicles eventually. Those will not be directly apparent to them, but will not be possible without 5G.”

The telecoms regulatory body, the Independent Communications Authority of SA, is preparing to license available high-demand spectrum and the government has begun work in preparation for 5G spectrum licensing as part of its efforts to build a smarter digital economy, according to President Cyril Ramaphosa .

Van den Bergh said 5G broadband was designed to support three types of applications which are enhanced mobile broadband of up to 20GB per second needed for applications like virtual reality, augmented reality, high definition video streaming and eventually holograms.


The other application is the massive internet of things for various machines, point of sale systems, electricity meters and all sorts of other sensors and information used to communicate over the mobile network expected to increase up to 1 million per square kilometre that 5G could cater for.

Van den Bergh said 5G had not been commercially launched anywhere in the world yet as technical specifications have just been finalised with others still being finalised.

“Realistically you will see the first major launches of networks in 2019 with widespread launches from 2020.”

The next generation could come around 2030 while 5G keeps evolving. The previous generations would keep moving right along, allowing people to use their old cellphones.

To access 5G new cellphones will be required.

Van den Bergh said for South Africa to be 5G-capable, it will need to consider radio network elements and core network elements that will need to be upgraded within network operators.

MTN is waiting for vendors to release their solutions in the next months, leading to setting up of sites and capabilities.