MTN has launched the first 5G trial in South Africa — and in the broader Africa — in partnership with networking equipment vendor Ericsson. Last November, the operator’s principal rival, Vodacom, said it would launch a 5G trial in partnership with Nokia, but hasn’t yet provided details of that effort.

MTN Group chief technology and information officer Babak Fouladi said at a press conference at the operator’s Johannesburg head office on Monday that its plan is to have everyone in South Africa connected to mobile broadband, including in rural areas. He said MTN will do this by building a ubiquitous 3G network covering the entire country, while offering the latest technologies based on 4G/LTE and 5G in urban areas.

The group launched the 5G trial “in recent days”, said MTN South Africa spokeswoman Jacqui O’Sullivan at Monday’s event. It follows the signing of a memorandum of understanding with Ericsson at AfricaCom in late 2017 to collaborate on the roll-out of 5G.

The 5G trial has achieved download speeds of more than 20Gbit/s with latency (network round-trip time) of just 5ms. 20Gbit/s is significantly faster than fastest connection speeds available to South African consumers over fixed fibre-optic lines. “This is the highest achieved on a mobile network in Africa,” MTN said in a statement.

The 5G trial is based on commercially available baseband hardware and 5G mobility is supported, the group said. “MTN has tested a range of 5G use cases and applications in its test lab proof of concept in South Africa, which will lead to commercial deployment in the near future,” it said. Read more from…

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