4G has really not arrived yet. In terms of LTE, it’s still being looked at. What Cell C, one of South Africa’s mobile operators recently launched is 3,5G which is equivalent to early LTE technology. So says Arthur Goldstuck, ICT analyst and CEO World Wide Works, who believes that by 2012 urban areas will capitalize on latest wireless technologies.
“In terms of urban areas, by the end of 2012, we’ll start seeing more wireless technologies being deployed, such as 4G ”, Goldstuck told ITNewsAfrica.com.
“It’s called 4G because the speed is equivalent, but it’s not really 4G. WiMAX is supposed to be 4G, but the way it’s used in SA is at the same speed as ADSL. 4G is here, but we use it like 3G and what we recently have is 3,5G functioning as 4G.We will still have to wait a couple of years until we see 4G as it’s supposed to be”, he explains.
According to the IT analyst, these technologies are not available in the market now, but rather “held back because Telkom doesn’t want to capitalize yet on the trend because they invested a lot in their current 3G network”.
Moreover, the networks don’t see the need yet to go to 4G. Providers will insist on 3G as much as they can before upgrading to 4G, says Goldstuck.
4G availability is necessary because “we need the speed”. At the moment, what Africa gets is not adequate, especially on wireless.
“You never get 7,2 MB/s, you see something like 1MB/s. So you need 20MB/s to actually experience 4MB/s”, he explains.
In terms of pricing, when the new technologies will be rolled out, a premium rate will be enforced, but that will come down to standard pricing like 3G, HSDPA+, which started out as a premium service but now is available at standard rates.
“What the networks have to realize is that the higher the bandwidth data, the more people can use it. Access to technology must be an entry point, not the final formula”, concludes Goldstuck.