The successful bidding of spectrum for mobile broadband services will herald a new era in the South African telecommunications market. Delivered by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), the licensing of additional IMT spectrum accelerates the development of 5G and paves the way for the delivery of quality experience and connectivity Internet affordable to a large majority of the country’s population.
For telecom operators in the region, this would be an opportunity to capture untapped market potential and contribute to the country’s economic growth. With this also comes the responsibility to serve their new and existing customers with a better experience through further upgrading and scaling of the network infrastructure. Radio access technologies play a key role in improving the mobile broadband experience and thereby increasing ARPU.
MTN offers the fastest network performance in South Africa
Being one of the leading operators in South Africa, MTN tops the rankings for mobile network performance. In a report by ICT media outlet MyBroadband, its Q1 2022 speed test data revealed MTN’s leading position in download speed and upload speed using Huawei’s radio equipment.
The report was based on over 300,000 speed tests performed by users of the MyBroadband speed test app and controlled test drives. With the test servers hosted in Teraco’s neutral data centers to ensure fairness in the test, the report revealed the average speed users get from network equipment vendors. In particular, one of the major equipment vendors, Huawei, leads the 4G/5G network speed, which is about 30-70% ahead of its competitors.
Mobile operators secure frequency bands for network development
Following the issuance of several bands of radio frequency spectrum, six mobile operators in the region have managed to secure 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 2.6 GHz and 3.5 GHz bands, which are crucial for deploying a more large coverage and facilitate the development of the network.
An MTN South Africa executive said in a statement: “This is an important milestone, not only for MTN and the telecommunications industry as a whole, but also for the digital future of South Africa. South. Spectrum is the lifeblood of our industry and is the key to reliable and extensive connectivity for our customers across the country. He also mentions that MTN will use the spectrum to expand 5G connectivity, while further improving rural, suburban and urban network coverage.
Meanwhile, Vodacom Group said the company’s immediate goal is to expand 4G and 5G network coverage to more parts of the country and improve service quality. It provides for the licensing of new spectrum in South Africa to accelerate post-pandemic economic recovery and accelerate digital inclusion.
A milestone in South Africa’s digital future
This license demonstrates the determination of the South African government to support the development of 5G. Despite the impact of the pandemic, mobile phone subscriptions have fallen from 94 million in 2020 to 103 million in 2021, according to ICASA’s State of the ICT Sector Report March 2022.
To ensure quality of service, ICASA has also established several obligations for licensees using broadband. For example, a Tier 1 operator who wins spectrum below 1 GHz other than the coverage lot will be forced to extend coverage to at least 97% of the population, while Tier 2 operators who cover less than 80 % of population with IMT services must extend this coverage to at least 80% of the general population in all of South Africa. The Authority also imposed social obligations, where operators are required to provide connection to public service institutions such as public schools, public clinics and hospitals.
As the first country in Africa to commercialize 5G, South Africa’s 5G development trend, spectrum allocation policy and cooperation with major manufacturers have also set an example for the region, which which could potentially accelerate the digitization and commercialization of 5G to create more value. .