South African operator Rain is in the headlines again, launching South Africa’s first commercial-ready 5G network in Cape Town.

Rain deployed the first 5G site last November, and aims to introduce 5G services in South Africa’s major cities this year. Earlier this week, it announced that it is partnering with Huawei to build a 5G network in Johannesburg.

Nokia and Rain have agreed to collaborate on deploying the 5G network with Nokia’s end-to-end 5G solutions including optical fronthaul transport products and its Fixed Wireless Access FastMile 5G Gateway. Nokia’s FastMile 5G Gateway is a home solution that brings high speeds to homes using 3GPP compliant 5G New Radio.

The 5G network opens the door for new applications and services that rely on ultra-high speeds and ultra-low latency, such as virtual reality, augmented reality and artificial intelligence for improved education, healthcare, entertainment, and more.

The rollout will continue through 2020 to extend the network to more areas. Later this year the network will also support a variety of 5G use cases when commercial 5G end user devices become available. This initiative paves the way for the introduction of 5G services in the entire country.

Willem Roos, CEO of Rain, comments: “Together with Nokia, we are busy building this country’s first 5G network within a challenging time frame to advance the rollout of 5G services. As ‘rain falls equally on everyone’, we relentlessly pursue providing affordable high-speed broadband to everyone in South Africa. With the 5G network, we will be able to achieve exactly this and be a catalyst for the socio-economic development in the country.”

Deon Geyser, head of the southern Africa subregion at Nokia, says: “We are excited to support rain in its 5G vision. The 5G technology promises to play a crucial role in bridging the digital divide, which will help in the overall economic and social growth of the region. rain has taken the lead with the first launch of 5G network in South Africa. This will allow the company to launch new and innovative 5G use cases, attract new subscribers and improve its revenue.”

The solution being deployed includes:

* Nokia AirScale radio access network solution, using 5G New Radio non-standalone approach in 3.6 GHz frequency spectrum to launch Fixed Wireless Access services.

* Massive MIMO approach provides improved network capacity, better coverage and superior speed.

* NSA mode utilizes the existing Nokia LTE radio, which allows rain to provide 5G services faster and cost-effectively.

* Nokia NetAct gives single consolidated view of the network allowing service providers to react quickly to any pain points.

* Nokia’s professional services helped in the timely and effective rollout of the network