By Siseko Njobeni for Business Live
SA’s data-only network operator Rain, which is partly owned by businessmen Patrice Motsepe, Paul Harris and Michael Jordaan, has partnered with Chinese telecoms giant Huawei to roll out the high-speed 5G network by the middle of 2019.
The roll-out will make SA one of the first countries to launch 5G, which promises faster download speeds, reliable network connectivity and the ability to connect more devices at once.
“The network will provide fibre-like speeds without installation complexities, time delays and cost of laying fibre in underserviced areas,” Rain CEO Willem Roos said on Tuesday.
Rain and Huawei made the announcement at the 2019 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, where 5G took centre stage.
“5G is here. If there is any doubt, you only have to walk around [the conference],” said Harris, who is also Rain chair.
He said that the development of 5G products later in the year would hit the industry like a tsunami.
Roos said Rain would take advantage of its existing 4G network and allocated spectrum.
Huawei said its products would enable Rain to use the existing network, saying leveraging existing infrastructure would accelerate the roll-out of the 5G network. Rain had about 3,000 4G sites in SA, Roos said.
“It is well-known that as broadband penetration increases in a country, you get better economic growth. With better economic growth, you can see improvement in employment. We are big supporters of [President Cyril Ramaphosa’s plan] to re-energise investment in SA.
“We made a promise to invest a significant amount of money in 5G,” Roos said.
“We hope to have rolled out a significant number of towers in [Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban] by mid-2019 to offer commercial services to clients.”
Rain planned to roll out the network rapidly, aiming for “significant” coverage in metropolitan areas initially, he said. The company said it wanted to deploy 1,000 5G sites in major cities in the next two years.
Responding to a question during the announcement, Roos said Rain had no immediate plans to expand to the rest of Africa. “Obviously, there is complexity around spectrum, licences and those kinds of issues. Certainly, SA can play a crucial role as the gateway to Africa. We will see if commercial opportunities that make sense arise.”
GSMA director-general Mats Granryd said: “The arrival of 5G forms a major part of the world’s move towards an era of intelligent connectivity, which alongside developments in the Internet of Things, big data and artificial intelligence, is poised to be a key driver of economic growth over the coming years.”
GSMA is a global mobile industry body.
It said in a report that 5G would account for 15% of global mobile connections by 2025.
By Jamie McKane for MyBroadband
WhatsApp has become the most popular messaging app for smartphones in South Africa, thanks to its cheap messaging costs compared to standard SMS rates offered by mobile operators.
The app offers South Africans a way to call, text, and share media with each other at rates far lower than anything offered by mobile networks, even when using a mobile data bundle.
Our previous tests have shown that using WhatsApp to call over a mobile data connection is far cheaper than making a cellular call to another user.
However, other forms of communication offered by the app use different amounts of mobile data.
We therefore tested how much data was used by different types of WhatsApp messaging and calling options.
The WhatsApp data usage was measured using WhatsApp’s built-in network usage tools, which provide a refined data usage measurement for smaller options such as text messages.
Data on video and voice calling over WhatsApp was sourced from MyBroadband’s previous tests.
We used two Android smartphones for this test, sending one message at a time between the devices and monitoring the data usage reflected within the application.
The data usage for text messages, standard-resolution photos, one-minute voice calls, 30-second voice notes, 10-second videos, and one-minute voice calls was collected and compared to provide an overview of the data usage requirements for WhatsApp on a modern smartphone.
From the data we collected, it is apparent that certain functions such as voice notes and standard text messages use very little data and can be quite optimal for communicating over mobile data.
To determine how much each message would cost, we compared the amount of data used for each message type with the price of a 1GB data bundle on each mobile network in South Africa.
Standard 1GB mobile data bundle pricing was used to provide parity with Rain, which charges a flat R50-per-GB rate on its data-only network.
We used these prices to calculate a price-per-MB, which was then used to calculate how much each WhatsApp message type would cost on the mobile networks.
The results are posted below:
By Loni Prinsloo, Bloomberg/Fin24
MTN will replace its cross-town rival Vodacom in a network-sharing deal with Cell C, South Africa’s third-largest mobile phone operator.
Cell C, which has roamed on Johannesburg-based Vodacom’s network since 2001, will switch to MTN from next month, Cell C chief executive officer Jose dos Santos said in an email.
The bulk of services will be transferred within two months and will allow the operator to offer 3G and 4G connectivity in areas where Cell C has decided not to build networks, he said.
For MTN, the deal will help fund “our ongoing network expansion,” MTN South Africa CEO Godfrey Motsa said in a statement.
Cell C will roam on MTN’s network in smaller cities and rural areas, where the company has additional capacity. Vodacom couldn’t immediately comment.
South Africa is MTN’s largest market after Nigeria and the company has invested almost R30bn during the past three years to expand its network and catch up with Vodacom’s coverage in the country.