Telkom 4G launch ‘within weeks’

The operator’s mobile arm will launch its fourth-generation mobile broadband network commercially within the next few weeks. By Duncan McLeod.

Attila Vitai

Attila Vitai

Telkom will launch commercial fourth-generation long-term evolution (4G/LTE) broadband products “within weeks”, Telkom Mobile MD Attila Vitai says.

In an interview with TechCentral, Vitai has disclosed that the company expects to have “about a thousand” LTE base stations live when it launches the next-generation broadband network. Coverage will be available in “sub-sets” of Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Cape Town at launch.

The company has been running a trial of 4G/LTE since November 2012. This trial is set to end on 31 March.

Telkom Mobile is using the access it has to a huge chunk of radio frequency spectrum in the 2,3GHz band to build the LTE network. Unlike rivals Vodacom, MTN and Cell C, Telkom is using a different type of 4G technology used in China and India. The technology has also recently found favour in the US.

Vitai says the fact that Telkom has access to such a large chunk of spectrum — 60MHz — gives it a big technical and commercial advantage of its rivals, which are being forced to reallocate existing spectrum to offer users access to 4G services. Though there are few smartphones available that can take advantage of 4G at 2,3GHz, these are expected to come as the technology is adopted more widely around the world. Also, the initial application for LTE is expected to be mainly in providing mobile and fixed broadband access for computing applications rather than for mobile handsets.

“You will see, within the coming weeks, us coming to market with some very innovative LTE offerings,” Vitai says, without elaborating on the plans. “We have huge amounts of capacity, loads of spectrum, and we aren’t refarming any our frequencies so the service we will be able to offer will be second to none. We first wanted to ensure we had sufficient coverage to make the service meaningful.”

He says mobile broadband will be the area in which Telkom will enjoy strongest growth in the years to come. “We believe that Telkom Mobile is the future of Telkom. We will be the growth engine of the company in the next five years,” Vitai says.

“With our spectrum, with Telkom group behind us, and with the people we have working for the company, we believe are very well positioned to benefit from that growth in mobile data.”  — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media

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