Anonymous 03/13/2023 (Mon) 04:42 Id: c9539c No.122678 del
Load shedding is killing 5G in South Africa
The perfect storm of a power-crippled 5G roll-out will widen rather than narrow the digital divide in South Africa.
By Paul Colmer 6 March 2023

The South African telecommunications industry is in a state of flux.

On one hand, 5G network roll-outs are gathering pace, with the latest news that Nokia has won a major deal to expand MTN’s 5G network to more than 2 800 additional sites around the country.

On the other hand, there seems to be no eLoad shedding is killing 5G in South Africand in sight to the country’s power crisis, with storm clouds gathering around the key stakeholders following the explosive allegations levelled at Eskom and the governing ANC by ousted CEO André de Ruyter.

While 5G promises to bring many benefits to consumers, including faster download speeds, lower latency and better network capacity, it also comes with some challenges, one of the most significant being increased power consumption. One of the selling points of 5G is that it’s more “eco-friendly” than LTE, but even though 5G consumes less power per bit of data, because it transmits significantly more data than LTE the net result is also significantly higher power consumption.

While 5G in South Africa won’t be using millimetre-wave bands because the spectrum has not been made available to local operators, it will still be using more power to transmit signals in the available sub-6GHz spectrum.

This is why power – or rather the lack of it – can ultimately be a 5G killer.

As with fibre and LTE, 5G roll-out started in the wealthier areas, because it entails a big upfront investment and needs measurable return on investment to make it viable. So, the first stage of the 5G roll-out will naturally take place in high-LSM-income, high-density urban areas. In rural areas, where communities are poorer and less densely populated, not too many customers even have the phones to use it, and the investment required will be exponentially more because of the power issues mention

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