Telecommunications giant Vodacom and mobile phone manufacturer Nokia announced a partnership where the two will trial the first high-speed 5G internet service in South Africa.
Nokia, along with rivals Huawei and Ericsson, already have 5G equipment testing in a number of locations across the globe.
Large-scale commercial deployments of the technology are expected to start from 2020.
According to reports, the service is expected to be fast enough to download a full feature film in under a second, while network operators have demonstrated its uses in driving autonomous cars to streaming patient X-rays to an emergency room while an ambulance is en route to the hospital.
Vodacom and Nokia will be working together to ascertain the best ways to use mobile broadband in the economy, and give industries vital to the economy, such as manufacturing, mining and healthcare, a boost.
“Africa is in the middle of a mobile connectivity boom, and as such, 5G will help us to deliver faster internet speeds to our almost 70 million customers,” Andries Delport, Vodacom’s chief technology officer, said in a statement issued on Tuesday.
Telecommunications-related companies have been frustrated by government and the telecommunications regulator who have delayed the rollout of the new spectrum following a disagreement last year on how to best implement it. This, despite companies such as Vodacom investing in upgrading networks and data services which have all but closed out the voice calls market.
Vodacom is the country’s biggest cellular company, boasting 39.4 million customers to second-placed MTN, which boasts 30.9 million (according to figures taken at the end of September).