MTN South Africa joins Vodacom Group and Rain in the race to expand fifth-generation technology in the country.
Last November, Swedish mobile telecoms equipment maker Ericsson announced that it had been selected by MTN South Africa to build its new 5G core mobile and radio network.
At that time Ericsson said 5G commercialisation was planned between 2020 and 2022, with a focus on use cases and applications relevant in the South African context.
Rival Vodacom launched its 5G network in May in three cities, with further rollouts planned in other parts of the country.
Rain launched South Africa’s first commercial 5G network in partnership with China’s Huawei Technologies in 2019.
Unlike the upgrades of cellular standards such as 2G in the early 1990s, 3G around the millennium and 4G in 2010, 5G standards will deliver not just faster phone and computer data but also help connect cars, machines, cargo and crop equipment.
Mobile carriers around the world are racing to deploy 5G with its promise of faster speeds and lower latency.
South Korea has the highest number of cities with 5G availability, followed by China, the US, and the UK, according to a report from network testing provider VIAVI.
As of January 2020, commercial 5G networks have been deployed in 378 cities across 34 countries, according to the new VIAVI report “The State of 5G Deployments,” now in its fourth year.
In February 2018, only two service providers had launched pre-commercial 5G services with limited availability, while only 28 service providers reported that they were in field trials with 5G architecture.