During his State of the Nation Address earlier this year, President Cyril Ramaphosa promised that high demand spectrum would be auctioned off before the end of 2020.

While we wait for that to come to fruition, Ericsson has announced that its Ericsson Spectrum Sharing (ESS) tech is now commercially available.

The technology allows both 4G and 5G to be deployed on the same band and the same radio through a software upgrade. ESS will dynamically allocate spectrum based on user demand on a 1 millisecond basis.

“For the first time, our customers do not have to re-farm spectrum before deploying a new ‘G’ and can quickly get 5G on the same footprint as they have with 4G today. In the next 12 months, more than 80 percent of the commercial 5G networks we support will use our spectrum sharing solution to achieve broad 5G coverage,” says executive vice president and head of networks at Ericsson, Fredrik Jejdling.

The ESS solution is currently being used by several mobile network operators including Swisscom which is currently upgrading its network with ESS.

“ESS is key for a fast adoption of 5G. It’s a win-win approach for customers and operators. Customers benefit from 5G in no time and operators use their precious spectrum in a most efficient manner,” explains head of IT, network and infrastructure at Swisscom, Christoph Aeschlimann.

It appears the operator is hoping to push its 5G coverage beyond the 90 percent it has already achieved and ESS may be the way to do that while not needing to refarm 4G spectrum.

Ericsson says that ESS will run on the five million 5G-ready radios currently in the wild.

We’d like to see the caveats of using ESS as that will ultimately guide decisions to implement it. Should the downsides be manageable, ESS could prove rather valuable here in South Africa while government goes through the process of spectrum allocation.

We do however think that this is a rather clever solution and we hope to hear about local operators implementing the tech soon.