Is Rain using a satellite spectrum for its 5G Network in South Africa?

Rain is rolling out a 5G network in Johannesburg and Cape Town in partnership with Huawei and Nokia.

MyBroadband asked to test Rain’s new 5G network, but CEO Willem Roos explained :

It is “not in a position to give access to test the network at this stage“.

-‘There are no commercially-available 5G routers and it is currently relying on prototypes from its partners for network testing.”

-“We aim to provide significant coverage in key areas in Johannesburg and Cape Town to enable a launch to consumers in the third quarter of this year

-“We then plan to increase coverage further in these metros, as well as other areas, over the next couple of years.”

Rain chairman Michael Jordaan:

-“The first 5G routers will arrive in South Africa in mid-2019“.

– “A public launch of its 5G service planned for September“.

“Satellite spectrum”

Rain has 148MHz spectrum in the 3.6GHz band – significantly more spectrum that what it has in the 1,800MHz and 2.6GHz bands.

Certain industry players have raised concern that this is “satellite spectrum”.

According to ICASA documentation, this spectrum has been assigned for “VSAT and PMP LINKS” and is licensed as an “Ad hoc Satellite service”.

Roos, however, told MyBroadband that the ICASA information is outdated and that the concern that it is using satellite spectrum for a terrestrial broadband network is unfounded. “Our network deployment complies to all conditions of our spectrum licence and complies to the latest National Radio Frequency Plan as well as ITU Radio Regulations and recommendations”.

ICASA was asked for comment on the matter, but the organisation did not reply by the time of publication.

ICASA isn’t likely to assign spectrum to operators to build 5G networks until the second half of 2020 — at the earliest. As for Liquid Telecom –  it has not yet taken any firm decision about how it plans to utilise the 3.5GHz band in future. Liquid has 56MHz of spectrum in the 3.5GHz band — at 3 456MHz to 3 484MHz and 3 556MHz to 3 584MHz. The only other operators with access to this band are Telkom and Rain.

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