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Vodacom launches 5G service in Lesotho

Vodacom launches 5G service in Lesotho

Vodacom Group says it has created "Africa's first standards-based, commercial 5G service in Lesotho", using its assigned 3.5GHz spectrum to initially deliver Fixed-Wireless Access broadband services to two local enterprises.

According to the operator, Vodacom subscribers in Lesotho can now leverage quicker deployment of broadband services "with fibre-like speeds".

Vodacom believes by providing early access to this technology, businesses and government can work with the company to develop, nurture and apply innovation to power digital transformation in the Southern African country.

The company has also deployed 5G tech in South Africa, with speeds in excess of 700 Mbps and latencies of less than 10 milliseconds (the time taken for information to be transmitted across a network from the source to the destination, including all intermediate elements such as the network.)

"This will exceed 1Gbps as new software versions and devices become available," read a statement from the company, which added: "Until such time as 3.5GHz spectrum becomes available to Vodacom South Africa, this network will not be available to its customers."

Shameel Joosub, Vodacom Group Chief Executive Officer, said: "What we've accomplished in Lesotho is an example of what can be achieved in Africa, should the requisite spectrum also be made available. Vodacom will be able to make 5G services available to its customers in South Africa once requisite spectrum is assigned. Global technological advancements are evolving at a rapid pace and South Africa can't afford to be left behind, particularly when we look at some of the potential use cases for 5G to support critical sectors of our society such as healthcare and education."

Vodacom South Africa has been granted a temporary spectrum license of 100MHz in the 3.5GHz band to showcase the same standards-based 5G network capabilities in South Africa.

The operator says the 3.5GHz spectrum band is considered optimal for 5G network deployments due to its suitability for throughput and capacity and it is not dependent on the digital migration in South Africa.

"In addition, the 3.5GHz band has adequate indoor penetration characteristics and will lend itself in future to the facilitation of a broad range of consumer and business applications such as smart factories, augmented reality and autonomous vehicles," the statement continued.

Vodacom said it has deployed advanced 5G Active Antennae - also known as Massive MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output) - "to provide improved spectral efficiency and coverage, enabling increased network capacity."

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