5G: An answer for a prosperous economy in South Africa

Since the late 1700s, manufacturing has transformed economies and societies. The key element that has made it work and thrive is nothing more than innovation and smart design. Manufacturing representing nearly 12%[1] of South Africa’s GDP, there are strong arguments to be made regarding the value of innovation.

Delivered in 5G: networks that provide manufacturers with the ability to enable intelligent operations and take full advantage of technologies such as automation, artificial intelligence, augmented reality for troubleshooting and the Internet of Things ( IoT). According to Ericsson’s The 5G Business Potential study, the projected addressable market in 2026 will be USD 113 billion, representing substantial potential revenue growth of 7% over current service revenue forecasts.

Drive operational efficiency across all sectors

Global mining exploration budgets increased by 35% to $11.24 billion according to S&P’s 2022 World Exploration Trends report[2] which is a significant indicator, given that South Africa has the largest reserves of platinum group metals. South Africa’s commercial ports also play a vital role in the national economy as an enabler of trade – a host of development opportunities are on the table.

Cellular networks bring unprecedented optimization value to port and mining sites, delivering a new level of process and operational efficiency that lowers costs, lowers environmental impact and increases economic value. By merging cellular technology with Industry 4.0 technologies, these industries can create agility, advance operations, and use real-time data to increase operational efficiency. The ports of Livorno and Rotterdam, for example, which we have helped enable IoT, have reported that optimizing ship berthing has resulted in an average cost reduction of 20% per year, equivalent to approximately 2.5 million euros.

Port and mining are perhaps just two of countless industries that could benefit from digital technologies. And with commercial 5G networks focused on consumer and personal communications already present around the world, the next wave of 5G expansion will allow businesses of all types to reap the benefits of mobility, flexibility, improved reliability and security – taking IoT and industrial applications to new levels.

The need for game-changing cellular innovation

As the world moves towards Industry 4.0, the increased adoption of mobile broadband will become an essential part of the economy of most countries and cellular networks will play a key role in sectors such as education, health, manufacturing and many more. However, cellular technology faces significant adoption challenges in Africa, such as low urbanization and large capital investment needs. We have been working on innovative radio technologies to help the country’s telecommunications sector meet these challenges.

One of our latest additions on this front is the 6626 radio which combines two frequencies and six ports in a single unit, allowing a single radio to power all three sectors of the tower. Supporting all standards from 2G to 5G, the 6626 radio brings significant reductions in power consumption, weight, volume and cabling requirements. Cellular innovations such as the 6626 radio reduce operating costs and help communications service providers (CSPs) efficiently expand South Africa’s cellular capabilities.

With 5G networks being up to 10 times faster than 4G, energy performance has become a key requirement for the network. We can create significant energy savings by driving grid innovation and modernization. Addressing network energy consumption and carbon emissions requires an integrated approach that goes beyond the performance of individual products and addresses the entire network.

By basing our 5G infrastructure on ultra-lightweight designs and Massive MIMO (multiple-input, multiple-output) techniques, we are rethinking the ways to build, operate and manage networks in smarter and more strategic ways. As Africa moves towards a digital-driven future, we are determined to foster such cellular innovations that help break the energy curve.

On the road to 5G readiness

There has been strong digital transformation momentum in South Africa. As digitalization increases in the country, greater amounts of contiguous spectrum enabling large bandwidths in a wide range of frequencies will become necessary to meet the capacity and coverage needs of cellular networks powering transformational digital technologies.

Over the past few years, we have seen South Africa focus considerable effort on this issue and actively work to improve 5G policies and regulations to help the country stay equipped for the digital age. A recent example is the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) which launched a three-stage 5G spectrum auction earlier this year. South Africa’s efforts to accelerate spectrum auctions and new spectrum allocations will undoubtedly maximize the economic benefits of cellular technology in the country and ensure that the country’s cellular networks exuberate maximum performance and global competitiveness. .

We believe that collaboration is key to achieving transformative change at scale and since our inception in Africa, we have spent tremendous time and effort collaborating with regional partners to define the open standards that enable communications and advanced connections on the continent. With a commitment to continue to work closely with telecom operators across South Africa, we hope to build a strong digital ecosystem that enables sustainable growth and propels the realization of a thriving digital economy in South Africa. .

[1] https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.MKTP.CD?end=2021&locations=ZA&start=1960&view=chart

[2] Report: Global Exploration Trends 2022

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