Mobile operators are readying themselves for the launch of 5G, with many piloting fixed-wireless access using new CPE (customer-premises equipment).
The 5G craze has spread to South Africa, too, with Vodacom and Comsol recently trialling 5G connections with speeds of 700Mbps and 1.75Gbps respectively.
While Vodacom’s demo was a temporary trial, Comsol’s live network will be active until the end of November 2018 and will be accessible to the public.
For the tests, Vodacom made use of Huawei’s indoor and outdoor 5G CPEs for its demo, while Comsol’s pilot was deployed using Samsung hardware.
The first wave of these 5G routers are prohibitively expensive, however, and are subsequently not viable for the average consumer.
MyBroadband spoke to Huawei and Samsung about the development of their 5G customer hardware and when they expect 5G routers to become more affordable.
Huawei said it expects to deploy higher production volumes of its equipment in the second half of 2019.
“Huawei will provide a 5G indoor and outdoor CPE by 2019,” said Huawei Consumer Business Group GM Likun Zhao.
“Huawei expects the 5G CPE to support large-scale deployment around H2 2019.”
When it comes affordability, Zhao said Huawei should achieve high device volumes by 2020.
“Huawei believes that by the year 2020 we will achieve around a million shipments of these routers. The cost will depend on the volumes.”
“In terms of technical challenges, there are three aspects that we are focusing on.”
“The first is the development of a 5G chipset with emphasis placed on performance and power consumption,” he said.
“The second is the adaption of 5G devices with 5G chipsets and a suite of services to offer new features and improved user experience. The third is the compatibility for 5G devices with 5G networks.”
This means all networks will have to go through rigorous testing in order to ensure that all standards and requirements are adhered to.
Samsung told MyBroadband that the company is already selling its 5G CPE.
“Samsung is already selling both indoor and outdoor CPEs in other countries around the world,” the company said.
“As soon as the 5G network is commercially available in South Africa, these units will be available.”
Samsung stated that the rollout of 5G technology will be split into 5G mobile and 5G fixed-wireless access (FWA).
“5G mobile would cover mobile devices like phones, modems, and routers, while 5G FWA is an alternative to FTTH – where a customer can get a high-speed, low-latency connection by just installing a CPE.”
“The only obstacle at the moment in South Africa is the availability of spectrum to roll these various solutions out.”