Samsung South Africa has partnered with Comsol, a provider of enterprise-grade wireless infrastructure to light up Vilakazi Street in Soweto with a live 5G pilot network.
The pilot network was officially switched on Friday, 07 September at Uncle Toms Community hall in Orlando West, Soweto.
“It is important that we have partnerships like this one, it is a great chance to provide convenience with the latest technology in South Africa said Sung Yoon, President and CEO of Samsung South Africa. “We believe that this is another game-changing initiative for the network industry in South Africa and we will continue to collaborate with Comsol to ensure successful deployment”, he added.
Premier of Gauteng, David Makhura said, “I am very happy that 5G is being launched in a township. There is no better place to launch the future of our continent than from the South. We want townships to be a place where people are thriving with good infrastructure.”
“The important aspect of infrastructure investment is around connectivity and access to broadband. Africa cannot be left behind and townships especially cannot be left behind. The digital revolution needs to come to townships,” he said.
Makhura said the government has invested in broadband through the Gauteng Broadband Network where they have connected more than 1000 sites including schools and clinics.
The Department of eGovernment has connected over 815 sites, including health sites, public libraries, and 782 schools across the province.
“I am very pleased that with this 5G trial there is a school here in Soweto that is 5G powered therefore this is going to be experienced by our children. This is part of the transformation of our township economy, he added.
He said the Gauteng provincial government has invested significantly in turning the face of townships. The government has the Township Economy aimed at enterprises and markets based in the townships. These are entrepreneurs in the forefront of driving township economy, the enterprises are operated by township entrepreneurs to meet primarily the needs within and beyond the township.
Comsol aims for the commercial rollout of 5G to businesses and consumers in Soweto before the end of 2019.
Comsol CEO, Iain Stevenson said, “In our own way, we want to play a role in South Africa’s future as we embrace the digital economy, showcasing just what’s possible with advanced 5G networks.”
Stevenson notes that the Vilakazi Street pilot network draws on the combined strengths of a number of global and local players – Samsung’s 5G solutions, Dark Fibre Africa providing fibre backhaul and MWeb as the ISP.
Stevenson explains that while 5G broadly defines the forthcoming evolution of mobile networks over a wide range of frequencies, this specific pilot network is 5G Fixed Wireless Access (5G-FWA).
5G-FWA utilises the kind of network technology that we’ll come to associate with the 5G era – the likes of beamforming and a high-frequency millimeter wave spectrum such as 28GHz – to provide an exponential performance boost to wireless broadband services. The companies will demonstrate the potential of 5G-
FWA which will deliver high-quality, high-speed bandwidth services and low latency’s to complement existing fibre deployments.
For the 5G pilot network service, Samsung provides 5G End-to-End FWA solutions, consists of 5G outdoor routers (CPEs) and 5G Radio comprised of a compact mmWave RFICs technologies and ASIC-based 5G modems developed by leveraging Samsung’s in-house expertise and assets. With these technical advancements, Samsung has been able to bring one of the smallest 5G Radio (radio base stations) and 5G routers (CPEs) to market, which are the world’s first 5G-FWA end-to-end solutions certified by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the first half of 2018.
Peak downlink speeds of 1.75gigabit per second (Gbps), alongside a number of other incredible performance metrics in early-phase network tests ahead of the official switch-on were reported.
Comsol Chairman Andile Ngcaba explains that the ultimate promise of 5G is the way it could extend to areas that, until now, have remained underserved due to the high costs of deploying today’s generation of fixed or wireless networks.
Ngcaba said, “5G represents our biggest opportunity yet: to re-energise our economy and to become a winner in the fourth industrial revolution.”