Telecoms & ICT

Taste of the future: MTN Uganda demos 5G technology

MTN Uganda has become the first telecom to demonstrate the 5G network technology,  with the promise that within the next 3 years, the company will invest in developing 5G network infrastructure. It is the first time the technology is trialled in the East African region.

Uganda’s test of 5G comes, nearly one year after world leaders in the technology rolled it out.  In April 2019, SK Telecom and Korea Telecom, both of South Korea, rolled out the services, ahead of China Mobile, China Unicom and China telecom that rolled out the technology at the end of October 2019.

Other providers that launched and commercially rolled out the technology in the course of 2019 include UK’s EE, Vodafone UK, Three UK and O2 UK. AT&T and Verizon of the US trialled their runs and commercially rolled out in late 2018. By the end of 2019, they covered 30 US cities with the technology.

In Africa, Uganda is the third country to trial 5G, after South Africa and Nigeria.

The 5G technology is generally known as the future of technology. It is the future beginning to happen today. The 5G brings a  number of attributes such as higher reliability, segmented network performance, and much lower latency.

Strategy&, a PwC last year said in a report that “5G creates the potential for entirely new service offerings, use cases, business models, and revenue opportunities. Instead of relying mainly on end-users paying telecom companies directly for connectivity, operators in a 5G world could generate substantial revenues by charging the companies that are providing 5G-reliant services to their customers.”

Uganda’s prime minister, Dr. Ruhukana Rugunda, who was the guest of honour welcomed the development saying Uganda’s government supports the progress of technology if it supports the government drive to finding solutions to problems that the country faces, and  improving conditions of living of the people.

MTN Uganda works on the ZTE technology platform.

ZTE, a leading Chinese tech company, prides itself as “a global communications leader, which provides the clients worldwide with satisfying and customised products and services.  ZTE is a publicly-listed global provider of telecommunications equipment and network solutions with the most comprehensive product range covering virtually every sector of the wireline, wireless, service and terminals markets.”

ZTE has delivered some innovative, custom-made products and services to some 500 operators in 140 countries.

Godfrey Mutabazi, executive director of the Uganda Communications Commission, said that as a regulator of the communications sector, they are working to ensure that there is appropriate infrastructure for the technology.

Wim Vanhelleputte, chief executive officer of MTN Uganda, said “In the next 2-3 years, we will embark on massive commercial roll out of the technology.”

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