Verizon, the No. 1 U.S. wireless provider, will team up with South Africa’s Comsol Networks, a leading provider of enterprise-grade Layer 2 fixed wireless infrastructure, to launch 5G fixed wireless trials in South Africa.
South Korean tech giant Samsung will also be part of the venture.
The venture aims to deliver a wireless solution that rivals ‘FTTx’ offerings, including Fibre-to-the-Business and Fibre-to-the-Home, by early-2019.
This will be achieved by using the ‘pre-5G’ proprietary standard from Verizon’s 5G Technical Forum (5GTF), which will ultimately be converted into the 5G New Radio (5GNR) standards once they have been confirmed.
It will fundamentally change the way that businesses and individuals communicate, paving the way for the likes of self-driving cars, smart connected cities, fully-immersive digital and virtual worlds, and much more.
This agreement initially will focuses on 5G fixed wireless access, over time this will evolve into consumer offerings.
“In early trials in the US, Verizon has shown the potential of the 28GHz millimetre spectrum, which has been identified for 5G services by the country’s Federal Communications Commission,” says Comsol CEO Iain Stevenson.
“With our access to the lion’s share of the 28Ghz band in South Africa, we’re excited to work together and accelerate the development of the 5G ecosystem. Verizon and Samsung’s involvement is a fantastic endorsement of our capabilities in the local market.”
As a global leader in infrastructure, Samsung will provide a wide range of hardware – from the base station technology, to the evolved packet core, to many of the customer premises equipment (CPE) requirements.
While the official standards for 5G may only be ratified by the International Telecommunications Union in about 2020, Stevenson says the relationship will focus on developing and jointly testing the technology, so it’s ready for commercial launch once the standards have been confirmed.
Comsol will leverage Verizon’s leadership in developing the Verizon 5G Technology Forum, orchestrating key industry players and driving the development of the 5GTF standard — a common, scalable platform for fixed wireless deployments in the 28GHz and 39GHz bands — and in testing and deploying 5G residential broadband service over millimetre wave spectrum.
Sung Yoon, President & CEO of Samsung Electronics Africa, said: “We’re excited to be partnering with Comsol to demonstrate just how important Africa is to the 5G revolution. There is so much opportunity in the region due to the diversity of markets and services already in place here, and we think the South Africa is a prime candidate to show off the benefits that 5G can bring to consumers here.”
Backed by Convergence Partners, the IDC and Nedbank Private Equity, Comsol is a Level 2 BBBEE contributor with a strong focus on employment (staff total over 150), skills development, small enterprise development, and community involvement.
Comsol Chairman Andile Ngcaba notes that “this ground-breaking partnership with Verizon and Samsung accelerates South Africa’s leadership in the 5G revolution.”
Comsol has evolved to create SA’s biggest open access Layer 2 nationwide network (available in 200+ metros), and holds IECNS and IECS licenses. With a significant tranche of the 28GHz spectrum, Comsol is positioned to be a key player in the forthcoming era of 5G, while also leveraging infrastructure to enable new IoT services via our LoRaWAN Network.
Stevenson adds that 5G fixed wireless access holds the promise of connecting millions of South Africans with high-speed connectivity that would never be possible with fibre solutions (which require significant physical investment).
He says that Comsol will remain a Layer 2, open access infrastructure player, leveraging its strong ecosystem of wholesale open access network providers, internet service providers, systems integrators, resellers and channel partners to tailor great-value connectivity products that cater for the demands of the enterprise and broadband end-user.