A 5G antenna is visible at the top of MTN’s office and it has been switched on for a week as the telecom showcases the abilities of what many now call the future of technology.
The commercial roll out of the 5G network will have a slow start but the regulator, Uganda Communications Commission, is promises to come to speed with global technology developments.
“I thought it would never come but one thing I notice is we are going to be limited by infrastructure. Currently, the infrastructure we deploy has a lot of limitations for example if you have to deploy in Kampala, you have to go to so many agencies, there is a lot of analysis, you have to cut cables,” Mr Godfrey Mutabazi, the UCC executive director, said at the weekend in Kampala, adding: “We are busy working on the spectrum for 5G and we shall ensure that in the next six months, we have got enough.”
For the two players, MTN Uganda and ZTE, the commercial roll out of 5G network will be in at least 2022 when the supporting infrastructure becomes available.
“It is no point looking for the signal, you will not find it on your phone, even on the most advanced. The first 5G full enabled phones will be launched in Barcelona on the Mobile World Congress in a few weeks.
Today, we are showcasing using with routers. There are 5G routers that pick the signal and retransmit the signal on the devices that will be connected onto the 5G,” Mr Wim Vanhelleputte, the MTN chief executive officer, said.
According to GSMA estimates, 5G could account for as many as 1.2 billion connections and telecoms now say Uganda will be no exception as this will cause wireless Internet connections in homes to leapfrog in a few years.
With 5G, Internet users are promised higher speeds as applications perform remote actions in real time.
There will be more capacity of remote execution with a number of devices connected together. 5G will intensify the use of cloud connections.
This means all devices will depend less on the internal memory making it possible to activate software remotely as if it were executed in personal devices.
Effect on price
5G will ease life in ways such as remote surgical procedures and self-driven cars among other things.
For now, players in the telecom sector say the cost of data could lower but there is a catch.
“The cost of delivering this 5G will be much lower but again the applications that you are using like Artificial intelligence, augmented reality, are data intensive applications that when you use 5G, the volumes that you consume are much more,” Mr Gordian Kyomukama, chief technical officer MTN Uganda said.