Vodacom launches 5G network in Kimberley


Vodacom has launched its 5G network in Kimberley, the first location in the Northern Cape to access the next-generation cellular technology.

Like in its other coverage areas in the country, Vodacom’s 5G network in Kimberley supports both mobile and fixed wireless access services.

“Vodacom customers with 5G enabled devices, and within a 5G coverage area, are now able to access the new 5G network in Northern Cape province,” the operator stated.

Managing executive for Vodacom Central Region, Evah Mthimunye, said her team was delighted to become the first network provider to roll out 5G in the Northern Cape.

“The latest mobile networking technology will ultimately help the region bridge the digital divide between the urban and rural areas of the province by extending access to affordable mobile broadband, especially as an alternative to fibre connectivity in underserviced township areas,” Mthimunye said.

In May 2020, Vodacom became the first mobile network operator to launch a 5G mobile network, rolling out to select parts in three cities – Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town.

In addition to the Northern Cape, the network is now available in select parts of the Free State, Gauteng, Western Cape, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal.

Vodacom is using the 700MHz band for wide-scale mobile 5G coverage and is supplementing network capacity with 3.5GHz where required.

To launch the 5G network in the Northern Cape, Vodacom used the temporary spectrum assigned by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa), specifically 1 x 50 MHz in the 3.5GHz band.

It’s notable that Icasa recently announced mobile network operators have to return the temporary radio frequency spectrum by 30 November 2021.

It’s not clear how the withdrawal of this spectrum would affect the continued availability of 5G in areas where Vodacom is using the temporary spectrum.

“Vodacom welcomes Icasa’s decision to extend the validity of temporary spectrum assignment until the end of November and will seek to engage the regulator regarding its stance on further temporary extensions,” a spokesperson for Vodacom told MyBroadband.

“Given temporary spectrum was introduced through the National State of Disaster Act as a mechanism to assist networks in meeting sudden shifts in customer behaviour at the onset of Covid-19 lockdowns in South Africa, it may be detrimental to consumers to withdraw the allocation prematurely while the National State of Disaster remains in place.”

Vodacom said that although it doesn’t necessarily share Icasa’s view on the current Covid-19 related environment in South Africa, it remains encouraged by the focus that Icasa wishes to maintain on the auctioning of high demand spectrum.

“As we have said previously, the award of new spectrum remains a critical part of reducing input costs and by extension the cost of data. Further delays in this regard remain detrimental to consumers.”

Now read: Telkom’s big 5G plans


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