Chinese multinational telecommunications firm ZTE believes it has the solution to help Africa prepare for- and leverage 5G technology.
Furthering its investment in 5G in Africa, ZTE South Africa, a subsidiary of ZTE Corporation, intends to roll out its Pre5G end-to-end solution to help African networks "maximise their return on investment in 4G, while preparing their users for the incoming 5G."
ZTE South Africa Marketing Director, Zhang Lei said, "Pre5G will show users what they can expect from 5G, thereby creating market demand."
The solution is being introduced to address what ZTE believes are two key restrictions facing African businesses in their migration to next generation infrastructure, namely acquiring preferred 5G spectrum and commercially available 5G user devices.
The company believes operators in South Africa do not have 5G compatible spectrum and those that do have the frequencies, struggle with their existing carrier bandwidth.
According to ZTE, Pre5G is ideally positioned as an interim measure to meet these challenges because it is compatible with present spectrum, legacy core and 4G user equipment.
A statement from the company reads: "Operators will get a Pre5G Base Station which offers greater capacities without changing anything in their existing 4G core network. It will enable them to have more connections with higher peak throughputs. It betters the coverage and works on various existing popular LTE frequencies such as 1.8G, 2.3G, 2.6G and 3.5g. Massive MIMO technology in Pre5G with multiple links offers link reliability and improved transmit diversity."
ZTE said it is busy executing 5G trials worldwide and in 2017 established an innovation centre in South Africa to demonstrate 5G user experience on proprietary Pre5G Massive MIMO.
In August 2018, ZTE completed IMT-2020 (5G) Phase III NSA core network test and IMT- 2020 (5G) Phase III NSA 3.5 GHz field test.
The company's view is that 5G technology will be expensive and operators want a solid revenue generation model before planning to rollout 5G.
While the technology is expected to create a value chain, Africa's first priority is to enhance coverage to its sub-rural and rural areas, according to the company.
"Reaping benefits from 4G to its full is going to be very important. Enhanced form of LTE will obviously add flavour to the future telecom landscape as well. Africa initially needs to focus more on its eMBB (enhanced mobile broadband) requirements, followed by other use cases."
Lei added, "We see South Africa and Africa full of potential. The rapid growth of subscribers and data usage, along with the rise of enterprise IOT, drives the network evolution. Therefore, Pre5G will certainly boom in Africa in the next few years, which is also the technical preparation for 5G rollout after 2020."