As the world begins the process of implementing 5G technology, network operators have tough decisions to make regarding how the technology will be implemented.

Today Ericsson has announced it has been selected by MTN South Africa to supply 5G equipment to the network operator.

Ericsson will supply products and solutions from its Radio Access Network (RAN), transport and Core portfolios. Interestingly, Ericsson says a commercial rollout is expected to start in 2020.

For the technically minded, MTN South Africa will be upgrading its core network to support 3GPP-compliant 5G Non-Standalone architecture.

In addition to 5G, Ericsson said it would also help modernise MTN South Africa’s LTE and legacy radio access networks.

“MTN is using 5G New Radios (5G NR), basebands, and MINI-LINK microwave transmission products from the Ericsson Radio System portfolio to enhance network quality and user experiences for the company’s 30 million customers. Ericsson has also provided MTN with an Ericsson Cloud Core network, including 5G Evolved Packet Core (5G EPC) and User Data Management (UDM),” explained Ericsson in a press release.

Vice president of Ericsson Middle East and Africa, Nicolas Blixell, said that this deal will make MTN South Africa one of the true 5G pioneers in Africa, adding that Ericsson will work closely with the network during the implementation process.

“Citizens, enterprises, industry and society in general in South Africa are set to benefit enormously from 5G and we are here to help MTN South Africa make that happen,” Blixell said.

This agreement brings Ericsson’s total commercial 5G agreements to 70 of which 23 are live networks.

“South Africa is undergoing a huge digital transformation, which will open up new business opportunities and boost the nation’s economy. To enable and speed up this process, MTN, with Ericsson as our partner, is rapidly upgrading our network to deliver the quality, capacity, and overall network performance that our enterprise and customers demand. Launching 5G will accomplish this transformation and, with fixed wireless access, will ensure high quality, increased capacity, and greater reliability for our customers,” added MTN South Africa’s chief technology and information officer, Giovanni Chiarelli.