The easiest path to 5G in Africa is through an infrastructure upgrade on 4G, says a senior industry executive.
Daniel Ramirez, director of radio access network (RAN) products at US-based Teoco, says this means having a fully rolled out and successful 4G network is the most likely prerequisite for a successful 5G rollout.
He says for this reason, “we expect to see 5G first in more mature markets like South Africa, with others like Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia and Egypt following shortly after. Investment in 4G infrastructure is a critical step; for example, by making it 5G-ready by adding 4G dual connectivity capabilities and expanding the backhaul.”
Ramirez’s observations come on the back of predictions that more service providers in the Middle East and Africa region will this year adopt 5G technology in their operations.
With the ongoing 5G debate, telecoms regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), in November released the information memorandum on the licensing process for the assignment of high-demand spectrum (International Mobile Telecommunication spectrum).
ICASA’s document sets out the roadmap going forward for the auction of spectrum for 4G and includes some frequency ranges being eyed for 5G.
Teoco is a provider of 5G, analytics, assurance, planning and optimisation software solutions to communications service providers worldwide.
The company recently renewed its 20-year relationship with the largest mobile operator in Africa, MTN Group, to standardise its radio and microwave network planning tools.
Teoco’s asset solution will be deployed across the operator’s subsidiary networks that span 18 different countries across Africa and the Middle East.
The company says MTN faced operational challenges in collecting consistent and accurate data from diverse countries, ranging from South Africa and Nigeria, to Yemen and Afghanistan.
It says the use of Asset Radio and Asset Backhaul will enable a much better view of the reality in each country, which will in turn help focus capex investments where they are most needed.
In an interview with ITWeb this week, Ramirez briefly shared Teoco’s business case for Africa, saying the continent is a high growth, high potential region for his company.
Ramirez explains: “It is also a region to which we have a lot to offer. Teoco is a global company, and African operators can benefit from that. Our experience on all technologies has been built in Europe, North America and North-East Asia. This puts us in a great position to be able to help Africa when they decide to move into a given technology, be it 3G, 4G or 5G.”
He adds: “Africa is an important part of our ‘emerging markets’ strategy, which also includes Latin America and South East Asia. Those markets, combined, represent a key proportion of our RAN business.”
Ramirez explains that in Africa, Teoco is focused on the RAN and backhaul planning side, as well as service assurance.
“We’ve had great success there for many years and continue to do so, as evidenced by our recent announcement on the MTN Group. We are now adding to that a focus on our RAN optimisation products for 2G, 3G and 4G, and our RAN planning and optimisation services, also on the back of the success with MTN,” he says.