Vodacom has announced that it has switched on its 5G network in select areas of Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town.

The 5G network is currently available on twenty live sites and customers with a 5G device can start using the network right now.

The big question is how?

The thing that has been preventing local mobile network operators from launching 5G is spectrum. Given that ICASA recently granted operators emergency spectrum, this has allowed Vodacom to put the last piece of the puzzle in.

“Vodacom was recently assigned temporary spectrum by ICASA for the duration of the national state of disaster, including 1 x 50 MHz in the 3.5 GHz band, which has been used to fast-track our 5G launch. It also makes Vodacom the first operator to activate temporary spectrum in South Africa,” the network operator said in a statement.

While there are 20 live sites, they are grouped into six area clusters namely:

  • Midrand cluster
  • Sandton cluster
  • Menlyn cluster
  • Centurion cluster
  • Waterfall/Sunninghill cluster
  • Century City cluster

Should you have a device like the LG V50 5G smartphone or the Huawei 5G CPE PRO, you will be able to enjoy the network right now.

The 5G network brings with it faster speeds, lower latency and more capacity than existing 3G and 4G networks.

“Vodacom’s 5G launch in South Africa comes at an important time as it will help us improve our network efficiency during the COVID-19 national state of disaster. During this difficult and unprecedented period, we are proud to offer world class network technology to South Africa, and all of its associated benefits, as we provide an essential service to keep the country connected. This is largely due to the allocation of temporary spectrum by ICASA which has already mitigated the network congestion we have experienced since the start of the lockdown period,” said Vodacom Group chief executive officer, Shameel Joosub.

The question now becomes when Vodacom rolls out to more areas but that hinges on whether permanent spectrum is granted to Vodacom.

In that regards, the mobile network operator says that its 5G network will roam on Liquid Telecom’s 5G network once the temporary spectrum is revoked.

“Vodacom will roam entirely on Liquid Telecom’s 5G network once we no longer have access to temporary spectrum and until we get our own 5G spectrum. The loss of temporary spectrum will neither impact customer experience nor our 5G rollout,” spokesperson for Vodacom, Byron Kennedy.

[Image – File]