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South Africa's Vodacom launches 5G internet service in Lesotho
JOHANNESBURG, Aug 25 (Reuters) - South Africa's Vodacom
launched what it said was Africa’s first commercial 5G internet
service in Lesotho on Saturday, but said it would only be able
to provide a similar service in its home market once spectrum
was made available.
Vodacom, South Africa's biggest mobile operator by market
value, said the rollout of the 5G, or fifth generation,
standards-based service would provide subscribers in the
land-locked mountain kingdom with "fibre-like" internet speeds.
The company said its operation in Lesotho, a country of
around two million people, had been assigned spectrum in the
3.5GHz band, enabling the launch of a commercial 5G service.
"What we’ve accomplished in Lesotho is an example of what
can be achieved in Africa, should the requisite spectrum also be
made available," Vodacom Group Chief Executive Officer Shameel
Joosub said in a statement.
Vodacom, majority owned by Britain's Vodafone, added
that until the 3.5GHz spectrum, considered optimal for 5G
network deployments, becomes available to Vodacom South Africa,
the service would not be available to its customers in Africa's
most industrialised economy.
In March, South Africa's telecommunications ministry said
the much-delayed allocation of radio frequency spectrum would
happen in the first quarter of 2019.
The delays, mainly due to wrangling between government
departments, have seen South Africa lag behind much less
industrialised and prosperous economies on the continent in
5G networks, which are still at an early stage, will offer
data speeds up to 50 or 100 times faster than current 4G
networks and serve as critical infrastructure for a range of
(Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana; Editing by Adrian Croft)
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