South Africa’s 5G network might be on shaky ground; here’s why


By Ogheneruemu Oneyibo, Sep 7, 2021

In recent years, South Africa has made the most progress among African countries regarding the 5G technology.

But it appears South Africa’s 5G network might be in trouble. But before that, here’s the backstory.

In March 2020, the deadly coronavirus brought the world to a standstill as it swept through cities. Countries were on lockdown, schools were closed, and more people worked from home.

The ripple effects of the lockdown — Zoom meetings, online classes,  virtual parties — meant that more people were using the Internet than usual. In South Africa, for instance, telcos saw a massive jump in Internet traffic.

Three weeks into the five-week lockdown imposed by the government, Vodacom, South Africa’s biggest telco, reported that Internet traffic on its network had seen a 40% jump; MTN South Africa saw a 30% jump.

In June 2021, Teraco, which operates NAPAfrica, Africa’s largest Internet Exchange Point (IXP), revealed that it had seen a 47% increase in data traffic since the onset of the pandemic.

South Africa’s telcos, like most around the world, were under severe strain. A challenge made even worse by the fact that the country has not held a spectrum auction in over a decade.


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