South Africa

Vodacom eager to reduce 2G network to aid with 5G rollout

Vodacom eager to reduce 2G network to aid with 5G rollout
Cape Town - Vodacom is aiming to reduce the amount of spectrum required for its 2G network and repurpose it in smaller batches to aid its 5G network rollout.

Speaking on the sidelines of the AfricaCom conference in Cape Town, chief technical officer Andries Delport said: “Vodacom wants to turn off its legacy 2G network for consumer handsets, as this would greatly improve its ability to roll out 4G and other modern services.”

He was speaking about the problems regarding moving from 2G (second-generation cellular technology) to 5G (for significantly faster data rates) and how Vodacom (and other telecoms) are trying to get around it.

Last week, the Independent Communications Authority of SA published the Information Memorandum that sets out the five options for the licensing of additional spectrum.

Access to the spectrum by telecoms providers will not only mean a reduction in data costs for all South Africans, but telecommunication opportunities that await to be unlocked.

Delport said although Vodacom would like to switch off its 2G voice network as soon as possible, “it’s not entirely within our control”.

He said the transition was problematic, such as the prevalence in rural areas of devices using 2G. These are cheaper than 4G smartphones, and are sold in high volumes to customers unable to upgrade to more expensive devices that use 3G or 4G technology.

Delport said some countries had turned off 2Gs, with some instead turning off 3G. He said turning off 2G would allow it to re-farm the 900MHz band and improve 4G coverage in less-populated areas.

He said to understand the transformative concept of 5G, people had to understand the mobile tech that came before it. Each G (or generation) so far had introduced increasingly advanced technologies combined to unlock potential from mobile phones, and new products to go with it.

For instance, 2G introduced services we still use today, such as SMS, international roaming, conference calls, charges based on long-distance calls and real-time billing. Web browsing, email, video downloading, picture sharing and other Smartphone technology were introduced in the third generation.

The fourth generation provided high speed, high quality and high capacity, while improving security and lowering the cost of voice and data services, and multimedia. 5G promises faster data rates, higher connection density, better battery consumption, and improved wireless coverage.

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Cape Argus