South Africa has some of the highest prices in the world. Willem Roos’ Rain intends to change that. He charges US$3.50 per gigabyte with no minimum or unlimited offpeak for US$18 (except 6 pm to 11 pm). It has 2,500 towers with LTE, most with fibre backhaul, heading to 5,000 fairly soon.

Learning from Jio and Free Italy, Willem Roos’ Rain charges US$3.50 per gigabyte with no minimum or unlimited offpeak for US$18 (except 6 pm to 11 pm). It has 2,500 towers with LTE, most with fibre backhaul, heading to 5,000 fairly soon. Rain & Huawei have started upgrading radios in Jo’burg to 5G and intend to cover the major cities rapidly.

Lower prices make sense if your operation is efficient. New wireless networks are dramatically cheaper to run than older ones. Lee Hicks at Verizon is replacing most of its transport network, seeing 50% savings in the first year, and predicting the savings will go to 80%.  Reliance Jio is destroying everyone else in India because they have a new network with much lower costs. 

#DataMustFall is a citizen campaign demanding affordable Internet.

Check it out at https://twitter.com/hashtag/datamustfall. Ministers and government speeches namecheck it often, but so far the government hasn’t come through with results.

Roos probably is stretching a bit when he says, “The network will provide fibre optic speeds without the complexity of installation, delays and cost of laying fibre.” It looks like their 5G will be in mid-band frequencies, delivering actual speeds of 250 megabits +- 200 megabits. That’s the results on a similar network of Deutsche Telekom in Warsaw.

Most fibre networks are now delivering a true gigabit or so, but that might not be true in South Africa.

Rain and Huawei Jointly Launch the First 5G Commercial Network in South Africa

2019.02.26

[Barcelona, Spain, February 26, 2019] At 2019 Mobile World Congress (MWC 2019), rain, South Africa’s mobile data-only network operator, announced that it has launched the first 5G commercial network in South Africa in partnership with Huawei, the leading global ICT solutions provider. This move has made South Africa one of the first countries globally to launch 5G.

Paul Harris, Rain Chairman and Ms. Jacqueline Shi, President of Huawei Cloud Core Network Product Line, jointly launched the first 5G commercial network of South Africa

With Huawei’s end-to-end 5G solutions, rain has been able to build the 5G network using its 3.6GHz spectrum. In the first phase of roll out, rain has deployed a number of 5G sites in key areas in Johannesburg. rain CEO, Willem Roos, says: ” The network will provide fiber-like speeds without the installation complexities, time delays and cost of laying fiber in under-serviced areas.”

Huawei launched full range of 5G end-to-end product solutions, from core network, the bearer network, and base station to terminals in the beginning of 2018. The company also launched 5G phones at MWC 2019.

Apart from deploying new base stations, Huawei’s solutions enable rain to fully leverage its existing LTE network and allocated spectrum for 5G deployment. This approach of sharing facilities and leveraging existing infrastructure will enable rain to roll out the 5G network in a quick and cost-effective manner.

Ms. Jacqueline Shi, President of Huawei Cloud Core Network Product Line, said: “It is an important step to work with rain in bringing the first 5G network construction in South Africa. With our leading solutions, we are committed to working with operators and partners to build future-oriented networks for smooth evolution and migration for the maximum value out of their investment and the best user experience.”

According to the plan, rain will continue to expand the 5G network to cover all the major metropolitan areas in South Africa with 5G networks to provide ultra-broadband services to homes and enterprises.

Roos, further notes: “rain is excited to build South Africa’s first large scale 5G network which can provide fast wireless internet to more citizens. We are supportive of President Ramaphosa’s investment drive in the country and hope to contribute to readying South Africa for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”