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What is 5G and what can it do for your smartphone?
11 Apr 19


As 2018 came to a close, the words on everyone’s lips were, "5G is finally here!”. With more people connecting to their friends, to their work and with the world through their smartphones, the demand for next-level internet connections is soaring. South Africa, in particular, is in need of the new 5G technology and no one understands that better than Phonefinder. Aside from the need to connect families split between urban and rural areas, SA is also a country of entrepreneurs, who benefit the most from running their business on their smartphone. In case you’re feeling a bit out of range, Phil’s here to give you a better Phil (oops… feel) for what to expect of a 5G mobile.

What is 5G technology?

You might be thinking, "Great, but what is 5G and why should I care?”. To put it simply, 5G is the latest generation of broadband that is packing much faster download speeds. This technology should cut back the time it takes for devices to communicate with each other over different networks. This marvel of mobile internet promises to be the key to higher internet speeds and greater reach, which will be especially helpful for people in remote areas. It is also being heralded as one of the keys to the realisation of the Fourth Industrial Revolution – after all, you cannot enjoy the benefits of the Internet of Things without a strong, speedy internet connection.

Unlike its younger sibling, 4G LTE, 5G offers lightning-fast download speeds of up to between 1 and 10Gbps with only 1 millisecond of latency. That said, the word around the world wide web is that realistically we can actually expect the minimum download speed to be somewhere around 50 Mbps and the latency of 10 milliseconds. This is still a huge improvement on 4G’s current average speeds of around 15Mbps and latency of 50 milliseconds.


However, 5G is proving to be something of a heavy investment. You see, while 4G LTE could be supported with a handful of large masts that are built miles apart, 5G would need loads of smaller cells located fairly close together to support the powerful new network technology. Can it be done in South Africa any time soon?

Huawei ahead of you

The latest and greatest in Qualcomm smartphone processors, the Snapdragon 855, sets itself apart in many ways, not least of which is its capability to support 5G. This processor is becoming the new normal with the introduction of many of the new smartphones hitting the market in 2019, including the highly anticipated Samsung S10. But Qualcomm isn’t the only company preparing for the 5G revolution.

Out of all the smartphone giants trying to get ahead of the curve, Huawei is undoubtedly the company with the highest stakes in the 5G game. These guys are doing all they can to be known for the first 5G phones: from their core network hardware to the 5G chips, everything about their new phones is geared toward being compatible with the 5G infrastructure. Although many assumed Huawei would be launching its first 5G phone in the last half of 2019 with the Huawei Mate 30 series, we may actually see the first 5G Huawei smartphone much sooner with the launch of the Huawei Mate X. With the Mate X, Huawei would not only claim the title of "First Folding Phone”, but also "First 5G Smartphone” – smashing two milestones at once.


When is 5G coming to South Africa?

While many nay-sayers declared that it may still take a while for South Africa to get started on putting a 5G network in place, what with the extensive infrastructure requirements, that didn’t stop some ambitious minds from starting to run 5G trials in South Africa. In November, MTN took the plunge and launched the first customer trial deployment with a 5G fixed-wireless access site in Midrand in partnership with Ericsson. Before anyone could call it a flash in the pan, South African mobile data-only network operator, Rain, announced its plans to bring 5G to SA by mid-2019 in partnership with Huawei. That would make South Africa the first country on the planet to launch a full-fledged 5G network! A Toto song comes to mind: "I bless the Rain down in Africaaaaa”.


Final word from Phil: Get the most out of your data with Telkom FreeMe

Although it could still take a while before South African infrastructure can properly support 5G technology, you can stay connected by taking advantage of great data deals with Telkom’s FreeMe data plans. Despite being a big player in the telecoms industry, Telkom FreeMe does more than talk: aside from the epic data deals, you can send free instant messages over WhatsApp, BBM, Viber and other messaging apps, and make online calls on those apps all the time, anytime! Of course, you also get 3,000 free minutes to call any Telkom landline or mobile phone numbers and, if you spring for one of the high-end packages, you can also get free calls to numbers on other networks. And then there are those magical words: Free WiFi! That’s right – you can access free WiFi in any Telkom hotspot. If any of this tickles your fancy, check ask the guys at Phonefinder about this and more great Telkom mobile contract deals.

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