MTN and Ericsson kick off Africa’s first live 5G trial

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Mobile network operator MTN and Ericsson have kicked off the first 5G technology and applications trial in Africa.

For many 5G brings with it the promise of faster internet speeds and while MTN and Ericsson announced that the network achieved a throughput of 20Gbps it’s the latency that had our jaws dropping.

On an LTE connection the latency is often in the region of 30 milliseconds, in the trial Ericsson and MTN achieved a latency of under 5 milliseconds.

To put that into context this is an internet connection with latency akin to that of a local network.

This lower latency allows for remote operations to be conducted in real-time. For instance a mine could be filled with machines that are controlled remotely by miners in a mixed or virtual reality environment.

This low latency is also helpful for autonomous vehicles and edge computing.

“In collaboration with Ericsson we are continuously pushing the boundaries of how 5G can meet the diverse needs of our customers. 5G gives us the opportunity to rethink how our business can add further value to the lives of our customers,” said MTN Group chief information and technology officer Babak Fouladi.

When will you see 5G?

So when will us rank and file folk be able to start using 5G? The answer to that is somewhat tricky.

At time of writing the standards for 5G are yet to be finalised by 3GPP. At the end of last year the 5G New Radio standard was ratified and if all goes according to plan we could see a 5G standard – in its entirety – before the sun has set on 2018.

There is however another problem that needs to be sorted out before we think of using 5G and that’s the issue of spectrum.

To obtain the high throughput, low latency and most importantly capacity offered by 5G the appropriate spectrum must be allocated by government and its respective authorities.

There is a way still to go before we are all connecting to 5G networks but the ball is now rolling and that’s something to appreciate.

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.