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No date for Africa's 5G network

By , IT in government editor
Africa , 09 Mar 2015

No date for Africa's 5G network

The road to 5G was a hot topic at the Mobile World Congress 2015 held in March in Barcelona, Spain.

Technology industry analysts, international corporations such as Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Nokia and Orange, as well as the European Commission (EU), presented their strategies and vision for the development of 5G.

According to the EU 5G networks will not only become platforms for innovation, but also facilitate a higher level of connectivity. This technology will also serve as the infrastructure to support multiple vertical business segments the Commission stated.

Furthermore the EU expects 5G to pave the way for the digitisation of the economy at large and open a clear path to rejuvenate the telecoms industry.

The first commercial roll-out of a 5G network is expected to happen around 2020, with Japan touted as the first nation that will launch 5G just in time for the Olympic Games.

Speaking at a media briefing at MWC Erik Dahlman, senior expert on radio access technologies and head of the 5G strategy at Ericsson, said the industry is transforming and 5G caters for new requirements.

Ericsson has embarked on its journey towards 5G but is still in the research stage and discussions on how to standardise 5G continue.

According to Dahlman with the roll-out of 5G they expect extremely high data rates, lower latency, new technologies and improved Machine-to-Machine (M2M) production use.

In some places today data rates can vary, and be anything up to 1Mbps, so the roll-out of 5G will ensure higher speeds.

And for rural areas in developing countries like Africa, it can provide 10Mbps, for example, he said.

So with all the set out vision and expectations for 5G, where does the African continent stand?

Dahlman did not indicate when a 5G network could be launched in Africa.

"We will see a very gradual introduction of 5G. 5G will not have the same kind of steps that we saw for 3G and 4G," he stated.

"3G was a completely new radio interface and was very much related to new radio interface. It was the same with 4G.

"For 5G it's much broader as we see cloud infrastructure, networks and everything..."

"We see the evolution of LTE as very important part of the roll-out of 5G," said Dahlman.

He pointed out that the roll-out of 5G will also be very much dependent on spectrum.

There are still many African nations that are still rolling-out 2G, 3G and 4G/long term evolution (LTE) networks.

To date LTE has been reportedly launched in 17 out of 53 African countries.

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