Johannesburg - Vodacom [JSE:VOD] agreed to a partnership with
Nokia Oyj that will see the mobile-network operator trial the country’s first high-speed 5G internet service.
The two companies will work together to see how the mobile broadband
can be best used in the economy, where the
government has delayed a proposed auction of new spectrum. They will
also examine how 5G can be used to boost industries that are important
to the economy, including manufacturing, mining, and health care.
"Africa is in the middle of a mobile connectivity boom, and as such,
5G will help us to deliver faster internet speeds to our almost 70
million customers," Vodacom chief technology officer
Andries Delport said in a statement on Tuesday.
Mobile-phone companies including Johannesburg-based
Vodacom are investing in improving networks and data services to offset a
declining market for voice calls. They have been frustrated by the
government and main telecommunications regulator, which last year
disagreed on how to best roll out new spectrum.
Vodacom had 39.4 million
customers in South Africa at the end of June, leading MTN’s
[JSE:MTN] 30.9 million by end September.
Nokia and main rivals Huawei and Ericsson are
currently testing 5G equipment in dozens of locations worldwide, with a
view to start large-scale commercial deployments in 2020.
The service is
fast enough to download a feature film in less than a second, and the
network operators have shown how it can be used to drive autonomous cars
and stream patient X-rays to emergency rooms as ambulances race toward
Vodacom shares declined 0.8% to R151.16 as of 14:10 p.m. in
Johannesburg, valuing the company at R260bn.
The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa held a
two-day meeting in Johannesburg last week to discuss 5G with
representatives of industry, government, education and research
SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE UPDATE: Get Fin24's top morning business news and opinions in your inbox.
Read Fin24's top stories trending on Twitter: