South African mobile service provider Vodacom has said it will make 4G technology available in the country by the end of 2013
The first cities to benefit from the service will be Johannesburg, Pretoria and Durban, according to the Vodacom.
The announcement came shortly after MTN made a similar promise to roll out 4G technology, also called Long-Term Evolution (LTE), to major African cities.
Shameel Joosub, chief executive officer of Vodacom, said, “We will definitely see LTE in South Africa before the end of [this] year and from there we will continue to grow it more each month, with more and more sites.”
Joosub, however, admitted that a lot still needed to be done in order to implement the technology in South Africa.
“There isn’t an available spectrum at this stage that has been given to the operators to have a full experience of LTE. For 4G to work, we need spectrum in the 1,800 MHz or 800 Mhz or 2.6 GHz bands. We have 1,800 MHz and we have to take it away from the current 2G network and reutilise it for LTE,” he added.
Mobile service operator MTN had announced that they will be “refarming” spectrum from the 1,800 MHz band to offer LTE, but said that it needed a spectrum in 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz bands to successfully roll out 4G service.
“The 800 MHz band is seen as crucial for delivering 4G broadband in more outlying areas because of the greater propagation of signals in the band. However, 800 MHz is currently being used by broadcasters for analogue terrestrial television and they are unlikely to vacate the band until analogue signals are switched off, possibly as late as mid-2015,” Joosub confirmed.
He concluded by saying that Vodacom has been in the process of upgrading about 75 per cent of its current base station in order to make 4G available in the future as well as rolling out fibre networks.