Vodacom to Drive a 5G-Led Digital Transformation in the Limpopo Region

Vodacom has intensified their approach to help a digital transformation in the Limpopo region through 5G.

Vodacom Limpopo Region has switched on 5G mobile network in Polokwane with further rollouts planned to other key municipal districts in that province. The 5G network supports both mobile and fixed wireless access services.

Fundamentally, 5G opens the doors for mobile communications to support digital transformation of economic activities. For example, 5G will enable government and local municipalities to tackle some of the biggest challenges cities and rural areas face such as efficient delivery of better services for citizens in health, education, agriculture, social services, improved energy management, to mention a few.

In May 2020, Vodacom switched on South Africa’s first live 5G mobile network in three cities – Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Cape Town, and now this super high-speed technology is also available in Polokwane.

“We are extremely pleased to further enhance our investment in Limpopo by launching the 5G network footprint in the province. Vodacom Limpopo remains committed to the digital transformation of the province. We want the communities of Limpopo to have access to the same technologies as all South Africans and therefore access to the same opportunities. This will support economic and social transformation. The widespread rollout of 5G will support the Government’s 4IR objectives and is going to accelerate government’s transition to more digital-based services. This is going transform public service delivery and help government to deliver excellent service delivery and help take the country forward. It will also allow our corporate customers to launch their bespoke solutions that are dependent on the high speeds and low latency that 5G networks offer.”

Imran Khan, Managing Executive, Vodacom Limpopo Region

To launch the 5G network in Limpopo, Vodacom used the temporary spectrum assigned by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), specifically 1×50 MHz in the 3.5 GHz band. Vodacom has decided to use the 700 MHz band for wide-scale mobile, 5G coverage and is supplementing network capacity with 3.5 GHz where required.

Short for the ‘fifth generation’ wireless mobile network, 5G is the newest iteration of our global mobile networking standard. It promises much higher download and upload speeds, lower latency (the time it takes for a connected service to respond to your command), and far greater capacity, speed, and increased coverage. 5G offers three major advantages:

Speed: 5G is around 10 times faster than 4G. It is designed to work at average speeds of 150-200Mbps, and peak speeds can reach above 1Gbps. This means people will be able to download a full 4K film in around 3 minutes (compared to over 15 minutes on 4G).

Low latency: latency is the time it takes for a device connected to an online service to respond to your inputs or instructions, otherwise known as lag. Reducing this time lag is crucial in making, say, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) applications faster to respond.

Huge capacity: this just means that it can handle lots of people and services accessing the network at the same time, even in densely populated areas.

Given these advantages, here are some of the things 5G network can deliver:

  • High 4k and 8K video quality movies, cloud gaming, remote education and remote healthcare.
  • Download movies much faster and stream games without any interruptions.
  • Carry out remote surgery in near real time using robotic arms.
  • Benefit from AR guidance and training via smart glasses or car windscreens.
  • Help drones co-operate in emergency situations.
  • Enable smart city infrastructure (such as traffic lights) more efficiently.

Provide faster speeds and this increase in speed will allow IoT devices, including those with healthcare and industry applications, to communicate and share data faster than ever.

More 5G devices are expected to become accessible to South Africans in future. Already we are seeing the introduction of increasingly cost effective 5G enabled smartphones around the world, not just in the premium segment but also in the mid-tier segment.

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