Vodacom Group has deployed commercial 5G fixed wireless access (FWA) in Lesotho, with the operator claiming the launch as a first for the continent.
The 5G network in Lesotho is provided via 3.5GHz spectrum which was allocated by the country’s regulator to offer “fibre-like speeds”. Vodacom’s 5G offering has already attracted two enterprise customers.
With a population of around 2.3 million, Lesotho is one of Vodacom’s smaller markets, meaning that the 5G FWA launch will likely act as a trial run for larger scale deployments across the group’s African markets. The group’s CEO Shameel Joosub said that the technology is ready to launch in South Africa as soon as spectrum is allocated.
Joosub stated: “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 will be able to make 5G services available to its customers in South Africa once requisite spectrum is assigned.”
“Global technological advancements are evolving at a rapid pace and South Africa can’t afford to be left behind, particularly when we look at some of the potential use cases for 5G to support critical sectors of our society such as healthcare and education”, he added.
While Vodacom has demoed its 5G technology in South Africa using a temporary licence, the 3.5GHz spectrum required to offer the service commercially has not yet been released by South African regulator ICASA (Independent Communications Authority of South Africa), and no auction date is forthcoming.