Cape Town — MTN has taken a giant step in its network evolution plan towards fifth-generation cellular technology (5G) with the launch of a C-band 5G trial with Huawei.
C-band, also called 'golden band' for 5G spectrum, is a valuable segment of spectrum and comprises of a frequency range of around 3.3 - 3.8GHz.
At the annual AfricaCom conference in Cape Town on Tuesday, the two companies signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to establish a joint 5G innovation programme to assess and work on new technologies such as 5G and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
It is anticipated through these innovations, MTN South Africa will develop use cases that have a social impact, including smart city and education, driven by 5G and AI technologies.
Giovanni Chiarelli, MTN Chief Technology and Information Officer (CTIO) said the trial demonstrated the capability of this new technology while giving customers a glimpse of what the future held, showcasing the next generation of applications for consumer and enterprise customers.
"MTN will further co-operate with Huawei to accelerate commercial 5G deployment," Chiarelli added.
The media launch demonstrated use cases including a live 5G speed test (with throughputs up to 1.6Gbit/s) and a series of live 5G demonstrations, such as Cloud virtual reality (VR) gaming, a robotic arm guessing platform and augmented reality (AR) eyeglasses- demonstrating facial recognition.
Dean Yu, Huawei Carrier Business Vice President for Southern Africa highlighted that 5G was at the stage of large-scale deployment in 2019 globally.
"In 5G era, more 'Cloud Native' services will appear," Yu said.
Yu said with the redefinition of the smart clients, broad pipes and Cloud applications, devices could be significantly simplified and more capabilities could be mapped from clouds to devices.
"Huawei will keep supporting MTN through its challenges and requirements, providing the most innovative product and solution for MTN, bringing the ultimate experience to MTN subscribers," Yu assured.
According to a speed test across South Africa early this year, MTN's network performance was rated the best network in the country.
Huawei is leading the 5G rollout globally, with more than 60 commercial contracts and shipment of more than 400 000 base stations.