Well, Rob Shuter, MTN CEO, doesn’t think so, and he made known his opinion at the Telecoms conference in Durban, saying that Africa is not ready for the next-generation 5G network but would likely be ready to embrace the super-fast technology in about five years from now.
The 5G networks, now in the final testing stage, will rely on denser arrays of small antennas and the cloud to offer data speeds up to 50 or 100 times faster than current 4G networks. Besides, 5G networks serve as critical infrastructure for a range of industries.
“This is the technology that would be used for very specific cases. It would not be a technology for everybody because most people don’t need it, your phone works fine on just 3G. You also need the equipment itself. So right now there is no 5G handsets and even the routers that can receive 5G network are very few and very expensive”
In some emerging markets in Africa and other places, the 4G is still not available for MTN customers. While the Telcom giants are working to make the technology available to their users, it might take some time. These customers might have to rely on their 3G network for the meantime.
Shuter went on the say,
“What we are doing now is to learn from the technology and get our network ready for it but I think 3G is much more relevant in most of our markets.”
When Shuter was asked about the multibillion-dollar dispute with Nigeria authorities, he declined to comment. This might be because the case is before a court in the West African country.
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MTN has a large area of coverage, operating in more than 20 frontier markets including war-ravaged Syria and Afghanistan, which accounts for a third of its annual core profit.