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MWC: 5G will be the fastest – and fastest-growing – cell technology

Ericsson’s Mobility Report reveals 5G is expected to reach 30 million subscriptions in MEA by 2024.

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5G is expected to reach 30 million subscriptions for enhanced mobile broadband in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) by the end of 2024, representing 2% of total mobile subscriptions. This will make 5G the fastest generation of cellular technology to be rolled out on a global scale, according to the new MEA edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report, released during Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week.

Key drivers for 5G deployment include increased network capacity, lower cost per gigabyte and new use case requirements. The majority of the 5G subscriptions in the MEA are expected to come from advanced ICT markets like the GCC countries Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar while in Africa, considerable momentum is building up in South Africa.

From a mobile data traffic point of view, the region is globally the highest with nine times growth forecast (1.8 to 15.4 EB/month from 2018 to 2024) and mobile broadband subscriptions to double (860 to 1,630 million from 2018 to 2024).

The MEA region’s telecom market is characterized by increasing uptake of LTE and there is a high usage of apps. Therefore, significant growth is expected in data consumption together with large mobile broadband subscription addition.

Economic recovery to drive investment in ICT

Economies in the Middle East and North Africa have shown signs of recovery in 2018 and are expected to grow by 3.9% in 2019 as oil exporters benefit from the improved outlook for oil prices.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, gross domestic product (GDP) growth is expected to show a similar upward trend, supported by rising commodity prices and improvement of the investment environment in large economies such as Nigeria and South Africa.

Continued economic growth in the region, coupled with a young population, favorable policies and lower cost devices will drive investment in the telecoms sector, increasing uptake of ICT services.

Demand for high-speed networks

LTE subscriptions will have the highest growth at 23% Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) between 2018 and 2022, driven by increased mobile communications service provider investment in 4G networks as well as rising usage of data-intensive mobile services in the region.

The combination of increasing usage of mobile video applications on higher resolution screens and better network throughputs will lead to a rise in the data traffic per active smartphone from 2.9GB per month in 2018 to 15GB per month in 2024, a CAGR of around 30%.

5G business Opportunity:

5G promises numerous opportunities besides enhanced mobile broadband, such as:

  • Fixed Wireless Access (FWA)
  • VR, AR and advanced media services
  • Safety and security
  • Industrial automation

The first wave of 5G introduction in the Middle East and Africa targets the FWA segment where operators utilize it as an alternative to fiber, with quick time to market, as well as being an additional revenue stream. However, for the full 5G potential, large-scale rollout and to achieve long-term success, two main areas need to be addressed, namely spectrum availability and use case development.

Mobile service providers need considerable support from regulators to carve out enough spectrum in existing mid and low bands. On the other hand, high band and mmWave spectrum is needed for addressing ultra-low latency cases like automation, AR and remote monitoring.

Rafiah Ibrahim, Head of Ericsson Middle East and Africa, says: “With connectivity at the heart of industry transformation, cellular technologies have a significant role to play – not just in the evolution of communication but in the transformation of businesses and societies. As 5G now hits the market, its coverage build-out and uptake in subscriptions is expected to be faster than for previous generations. At the same time, cellular IoT continues to grow strongly. As networks mature and ecosystems evolve, service providers need to become increasingly agile to achieve the goal of profitable growth.”

The Mobility report also features articles on migration to new technology, cellular IoT connectivity, the road to 5G and challenges ahead.

Read the full Ericsson Mobility Report

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AppDate: uKheshe bring banking to the masses

In his apps roundup, SEAN BACHER highlights uKheshe, FNB’s banking app with its will feature, Split Payments, Momentum Safety Alert and Fleetonomy.

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uKheshe micro transaction platform

Financial inclusion took another step forward as local start-up, uKheshe, South Africa’s cheapest and most convenient QR cash card and micro transaction platform, won the 2019 Global Fintech Hackcelerator @ Southern Africa competition. 

“The issue of financial inclusion is a global one and the more we can do to uplift the unbanked and under banked, the healthier their respective economies will become,” says Clayton Hayward, co-founder, uKheshe.

While 1.2 billion people have opened a financial account since 2011, there is still an estimated 1.7 billion adults worldwide (or 31% of adults) who don’t have a basic transaction account.  Globally, two-thirds of adults without an account cite a lack of money as a key reason, which implies that financial services aren’t yet affordable or designed to fit low-income users.

To find out more about uKheshe click here

FNB’s banking app with will feature

First National Bank now lets its customers draw up their own wills via the FNB Online Banking platform at no cost. To date, the bank has seen a significant increase in the number of clients who drafted their own wills online, with over 52 000 clients already accessing the functionality.

Approximately 80% of South Africans don’t have a valid will in place; and many people believe that it’s a need only when they get older, or later in life. 

“Whilst the digital process is simple and easy to use, the solution also helps with a dedicated client support centre should clients need further assistance or advice regarding the drafting of their wills,” says Johan Strydom, Growth Head, FNB Wealth and Investments. “The solution aims to simplify the process and allows customers to easily draft a will online anytime and at any place, at no cost. In addition, FNB will keep your original will in safe custody at no extra cost.”

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Available the FNB app which can be be downloaded here.

Split Payments

PayFast has launched Split Payments, a South African-first that instantly splits a portion of an online payment with a third party. The service is designed to facilitate fast, safe payments for platform-based businesses, including online marketplaces.

For those who run a marketplace that brings together multiple sellers or merchants looking for new sales channels, Split Payments addresses payment headaches with a simple API integration.

Consumers are used to engaging with large global transactional platforms such as AirBnB, Uber, and Amazon. The benefits and extended reach of these types of platforms are catching on locally, and organisations like estate agency groups and even community marketplaces are setting up digital trading platforms.

The app allows businesses to instantly split out commission, membership or listing fees, when a payment is made via one of its supported payment methods.

For each online payment received  the business can determine what the split is, either a fixed amount, a percentage, or a combination of both. Custom recurring payment integration, such as subscriptions payments, can also be split automatically.

Platform: iOS and Android

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Download Split Payments here

Read more about Momentum’s new Safety Alert app and Fleetonomy.

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Why 4G is still a thing

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Even with the 5G era already upon us, investment in 4G/LTE networks is still vitally important for operators in sub-Saharan Africa and must remain a core focus of network construction for the immediate future. This is according to David Chen, Vice-President, Huawei Southern Africa. 

“Currently, the mobile broadband penetration rate in Africa is only 47%, while 4G penetration rate is merely 10%,” Chen said.

“Insufficient coverage causes LTE users to fall back to the 2G or 3G networks, resulting in significant decline in user experience. It also leads to congestion on the 2G and 3G networks and makes it difficult to release spectrum used by 2G and 3G.”

Chen said that LTE and 5G complement each other and are evolving in parallel. In the next few years, 5G will mainly be used in more industrial communications.

LTE will remain the primary choice for global mobile communications through 2025. It will form the basic layer of national networks, especially when it comes to the mobile broadband access.

“It will take a long time for 5G to provide nationwide continuous coverage. Before that, enhanced LTE networks can guarantee optimal user experience for 5G users, including services such as VR, AR, and cloud gaming,” said Chen.

He said that it is important for operators to invest in 4G to secure future growth, as it is estimated that there will be an additional 80 million LTE users in sub-Saharan Africa by 2025.

Driven by this growth, LTE traffic in sub-Saharan Africa will increase by a factor of 8.8. By 2025, about 80% of all data traffic in the region will be over an LTE network.

LTE will also be the main source of future revenue for operators.

“According to GSMA Intelligence, 2G and 3G users in sub-Saharan Africa will gradually migrate to 4G,” said Chen. “By 2025, the proportion of 2G users will drop from 46% to 12%.”

Part of the reason for the migration to 4G is because the ecosystem is mature.

“The price of feature phones supporting VoLTE in the sub-Saharan Africa market has been as low as $25,” Chen said.

Since 5G equipment is already available, there is an opportunity for operators to build out their 4G networks while ensuring that they can evolve to 5G in future.

Chen offered the following tips to operators to ensure they are ready for 5G:

  • All future equipment installations should be 5G ready, allowing easy upgrades to 5G through software updates.
  • Software should support multi-standard spectrum sharing to improve spectrum efficiency, and to allow the smooth migration of 2G and 3G users.
  • Networks must support 4G and 5G coordination, in terms of spectrum, operation and maintenance. This will ensure that users have a consistent experience as we enter the 5G era.
  • The value of existing ICT infrastructure, such as base station sites, must be maximised to avoid overlapping services and wasted resources. This would mean boosting the capacity and coverage of every station for optimum efficiency.
  • Carriers should explore the business case for all possible 5G innovations when building 4G networks, and not just embrace 5G for its own sake. This will mean building business models around IoT, video, live broadcast, augmented reality, and virtual reality.
  • It is important that operators build partnerships with providers that can support the ongoing spectrum evolution with fast site upgrades and large-capacity solutions. The idea is to maximise the value of 4G networks, and smoothly evolve to 5G without unnecessary infrastructure investment.

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