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10 Facts: LTE in South Africa


LTE (Long Term Evolution) will be rolled out in full force in some South African cities soon. Many of you are probably in the dark about LTE in South Africa, so I thought I’d write up a little something to inform you a bit more about it.

Wikipedia defines LTE as a standard for wireless communication of high-speed data for mobile phones and data terminals. LTE is based on the GSM/EDGE and UMTS/HSPA network technologies and increases the capacity and speed using a different radio interface together with core network improvements.

Here are 10 Facts about LTE in South Africa that you should know:

  • LTE in South Africa could be up to 3 times faster than 3G. In ideal conditions connection speeds could reach 60 Mbps, but South Africans should be able to reach about 10 Mbps on average, according to Vodacom.
  • LTE coverage in SA will be limited to a few cities. Most networks are rolling it out in Johannesburg first.
  • Vodacom launched SA’s first commercial LTE service earlier in October 2012. Connectivity is very limited, mostly to the Johannesburg and Midrand region.
  • South Africans can expect the release of LTE compatible phones over the next few months. Samsung and Nokia have already announced LTE compatible phones in the last week or so. The Apple iPhone 5 is LTE compatible and might be in SA before the end of the year.
  • LTE will offer better latency than 3G. Downloads will probably not bomb out if you’re connected via LTE.
  • On the Vodacom network your device will automatically switch to 3G if you’re out of range of LTE.
  • Cell C will launch a commercial LTE offering before the end of 2012, if anything doesn’t go wrong.
  • MTN has said that they already have 250 LTE sites that a ready and that they are aiming to launch in Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Durban. They’re also planning to expand their network to up to 500 sites by the end of the year.
  • 8ta is planning to limited LTE testing in the Gauteng region in the coming months and should launch a commercial service soon.
  • My BroadBand recently tested the Vodacom LTE network in Johannesburg using their Speedtest server: It showed download speeds ranging between 10 Mbps and 35 Mbps. Upload speeds typically ranged between 5 Mbps and 16 Mbps.

If you ask me this is good news. Finally we’re going have LTE in South Africa. The real problem is the cost of data in this country though. More than 10 million South African internet users are getting very bandwith hungry and it’s still extremely expensive compared to the rest of the developing world.  Mobile networks should really look at ways that will make data extremely cheap in South Africa.

What are your opinions about LTE in South Africa? Leave a comment on this post and let the readers of this blog know, feedback is appreciated and welcome.

Watch this space for regular updates in the Facts and Technology category on Running Wolf’s Rant.



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