The potential of 5G lies in its ability to transform the way people live and work as well as the way industries operate
Africa is as capable of embracing the huge potential of this technology as the rest of the world, even within the limitations of existing infrastructure and complex connectivity challenges. Industries have adopted 2G, 3G and 4G in incremental steps as these technologies have evolved within the constraints of legacy technologies and capabilities. Now, 5G is introducing an opportunity for the industry to embrace growth and innovation. But only if it is done with a clear focus on what 5G can realistically deliver and a clear eye on the future.
“To fully capitalise on 5G, the industry has to re-architecture the networks because new services will not only be about high bandwidth but also about low latency,” said Deon Geyser, head of the Southern Africa subregion at Nokia. “The future is about ensuring that systems and solutions are ‘always on’ and intelligent, providing industry verticals with the ability to fully recognise the capabilities of automation.”
Of course, there have been some concerns around how quickly 5G could become a reality within the African context. There are legacy network infrastructure issues and connectivity in many areas remains limited. However, a significant percentage of local networks have already started to explore how they can capitalise on 5G and commercialise their 5G in non-standalone architecture.
“It has become clear that great 5G runs on top of great 4G,” said Geyser. “In non-standalone architecture, the 5G control information goes through the LTE eNodeBs and the throughput can tap the resources of 5G and 4G through dual connectivity. This means that if you have the best performing 4G network, you are already ahead of the game in 5G.”
A recent study conducted by RootMetrics confirmed that 62% of the Nokia-powered LTE networks operated by one of the big four – Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon – in the United States, delivered the fastest or second-fastest network speed. This RootMetric score is highly relevant in the context of 5G as the best LTE network performance is the foundation for the best 5G.