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Nokia boosts Vodacom with ultra-fast 5G services

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Finnish multinational telecommunications company Nokia has boosted Vodacom’s 5G network by deploying its 5G radio, core and fixed network solutions across the mobile operator’s network.

In May, using the temporary spectrum assigned to telcos by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) for the duration of the COVID-19-induced national state of disaster, Vodacom commercially launched its 5G mobile network in three cities – Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town – with further rollouts planned in other parts of the country.

Using the same spectrum, rival operator MTN also switched on its 5G network, covering the areas of Johannesburg and Cape Town, as well as Bloemfontein and Port Elizabeth.

ICASA is set to auction the much-needed spectrum to telcos in March next year and this will result in the country’s 5G networks expanding.

Vodacom is using Nokia’s 2G, 3G, 4G and fibre access networks, as well as 5G fixed wireless access (FWA) and mobile broadband services, says the Finnish company in a statement.

Nokia is supplying its AirScale, Fastmile and Subscriber Data Management (SDM) / Home Subscriber Server (HSS) products to Vodacom to enhance its service offering and deliver increased operational efficiencies, it adds.

According to Nokia, its AirScale radio network product portfolio will enable Vodacom to deploy 5G services across several spectrum bands, including the new 3 500MHz, 2 600MHz and 700/800MHz bands which will be auctioned by ICASA before the end of March 2021.

The company points out that AirScale will help to manage the increased demand for data services during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The 5G network rollout is in line with South Africa’s broadband policy of building infrastructure by 2030 for an inclusive knowledge economy which supports the fourth industrial revolution (4IR), it adds.

Vodacom will also use Nokia’s FastMile 5G gateway to offer FWA broadband services in areas not currently served by a fibre network.

Nokia says the solution is easy for subscribers to install, delivering fibre-like speeds to homes while using WiFi to connect devices within the home.

Vodacom is also using Nokia’s mesh WiFi solution, which improves user experience by creating a seamless WiFi coverage area while reducing the time and complexity required to install and manage the WiFi network.

Nokia’s cloud-based SDM software and HSS will be rolled out to securely manage subscriber data and services in a centralised hub, the Finnish company says.

Vodacom will also utilise Nokia’s NetAct network management system, which is cloud-agnostic and meets customer demands for software-only delivery, Nokia says, adding that it can be deployed on the same data centre platforms as existing IT and network systems for increased agility and lower operational costs.

Beverly Ngwenya, technology director at Vodacom South Africa, says: “We are committed to providing the most innovative products and highest quality service to our subscribers. 5G technology allows us to deliver ultra-fast mobile networks and support entirely new use cases as we move into the 4IR era.

“Nokia has been our network partner for more than two decades, and its latest technology solutions are now helping us to deliver superior 5G services.”

Tommi Uitto, president of mobile networks at Nokia, says: “Our AirScale 5G and Fastmile fixed wireless access portfolio helps service providers across the globe to build robust and reliable networks to address the growing demand for high-speed broadband services.

“From our 26-year relationship with Vodacom we understand that South Africa is a highly competitive market, with end-users expecting continent-leading services and applications. We are proud to have successfully executed this important network deployment, enabling Vodacom to deliver those sought-after broadband capabilities.”

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