South Africa is expected to lead an increase in 5G activity across sub-Saharan Africa, according to a GSMA report. While the report describes SA as “the most advanced market in the region”, it also states, however, that mass deployment and adoption of 5G across the region is still several years away. This is mostly due to the high cost of 5G infrastructure rollouts. GSMA expect enterprise and public institutions to be the first adopters of 5G networks and using it to enable real-time analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT).
Are local businesses prepared?
According to Vishal Barapatre, CTO of In2IT Technologies, as more and more organisations and industries are swept up in a major digital revolution there is greater demand for networks that are capable of coping with advanced connectivity needs. Faster connectivity will enhance healthcare and educational opportunities, in addition to boosting safety and security in communities that have historically been isolated and underserved.
And the benefits for business are vast. As one example, Barapatre details how the manufacturing industry will benefit from 5G. Digital twins are virtual replicas of physical devices that use real-world data to generate models that make it possible to forecast the success of a product or process. Digital twins make predictive maintenance possible, allowing a manufacturing facility to predict when a fault will occur and plan necessary maintenance before something goes wrong. But this is only possible with high-speed, low latency connectivity, which is only achievable when the necessary infrastructure is in place and once the required spectrum has been allocated.
Progress is, however, being made.
In April last year, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), approved the temporary allocation of high-value 4G and 5G spectrum frequencies to meet increased traffic and to assist with increased demand by consumers during the COVID-19 pandemic. And the country’s leading telecoms operators are already in the early stages of 5G network development.
But these ecosystem players need to consider the 5G business case for any given market, based on supply and demand, before making any big investments. In Sub-Saharan Africa the facts on the ground reveal that there is a more complex path towards 5G, especially when compared to more advanced markets.
But this doesn’t mean organisations shouldn’t start planning for when 5G is fully deployed. This is where local companies can benefit from partnering with experienced IT partner can help the organisation build and introduce the right technologies, at the right price. At Nebula, this is what we do. If you’d like to find out more, complete the form below.