Rain’s cheap uncapped 5G — learning from its 4G mistakes


Rain is ensuring that there is enough capacity on its 5G network to sustain the rollout of its cheaper uncapped package for R499 per month.

“As we roll out the network, we add coverage and capacity,” Rain CEO Brandon Leigh told MyBroadband.

“So the rollout of more sites is the biggest contributor to adding capacity to the network.”

Leigh said that the unlimited home 5G basic product launch is part of Rain’s plan to make 5G more accessible to more South Africans.

“Unlimited Home 5G Basic at only R499 aims to lower the barrier to entry for new customers as well as an opportunity for existing 4G home customers who are within 5G coverage to take up the opportunity to migrate to the 5G network,” he said.

The launch of a cheaper uncapped 5G package is expected to bring an influx of new customer’s to Rain’s network — which may set off alarm bells for existing Rain subscribers.

When Rain first rolled out affordable uncapped 4G in South Africa in 2017, it quickly ran into network capacity problems in some areas.

Subscribers complained vociferously about inconsistent connectivity and poor speeds during peak usage periods — usually from 19h00 or 20h00 in the evenings.

For many, Rain’s 4G network flew during the day, even offering better speeds than fibre. However, at night when the tower became congested, they often couldn’t load basic web pages.

By July 2018, Rain finally announced that it would suspend the sale of its fixed-LTE products through ISPs due to capacity constraints on its network.

The company said the popularity of its mobile products and its strong fixed-LTE sales put strain on its network, requiring it to manage its network capacity by halting fixed-LTE sales.

Rain said at the time that its fixed-LTE products might become available again as the capacity of its LTE network increases, but it never restarted sales.

Instead, Rain focused on the rollout of 5G and has even offered struggling 4G subscribers who are in 5G coverage areas free upgrades to 5G.

Brandon Leigh, New Rain CEO
Brandon Leigh, Rain CEO

Rain previously told MyBroadband that the key to the success and sustainability of its 5G service would be the massive increase in the capacity 5G offers over 4G.

It said that 5G has 50× to 100× the capacity per site than 4G.

“The 5G network is architected to accommodate dramatically more users than 4G,” the company stated.

The increase in speeds 5G offers also ensures that users use the network in an ultra-efficient manner, it said

“Furthermore, Rain provides a high-quality 5G router, customised for the Rain 5G network, which makes efficient use of network resources.”

Rain also said that new 5G customers are only taken on board and activated if they have sufficient signal quality and strength.

Users must run a speed test with their Rain 5G service and achieve a minimum download speed before activating their package.

“We continue to roll out as planned, and this will enable us to keep up with the demand,” Leigh told MyBroadband.

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