Telecom Namibia, which recently celebrated its milestone 30th anniversary says it is committed to deploy a fifth generation (5G) network in the country.
The company aims to spearhead a digital transformation journey to support the country’s Vision 2030, Fourth Industrial Revolution, the fifth National Development Plan and Harambee Prosperity Plan II objectives —
Experts say the rollout of the technology will potentially have a positive impact on the manufacturing, transportation, public services, education, health, agriculture, energy, logistics and mining industry sectors of the country.
The Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) said the social value of 5G technology is through contributing to good health and well-being, enhancing infrastructure, fostering innovation, and enabling sustainable cities and communities thereby promoting economic growth.
Cabinet approved the deployment of the 5G technology last year, tasking CRAN, through the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, to accelerate the development of a 5G strategy for Namibia, which was submitted to Cabinet for consideration.
In an interview with The Villager yesterday, the company’s Chief Executive Officer Stanley Shanapinda said Telecom Namibia is implementing a converged core for both fixed and mobile to enable it to rollout 5G services.
Shanapinda said the company will participate in the spectrum auction to coincide with its converged core readiness.
This month CRAN published its Request to Bid documents for the spectrum auction for a number of bands. Lot A comprises four 5MHz in the 801 – 821 MHz band, paired with four 5MHz in the 842 – 862 MHz band.
According to CRAN, licensees may use the spectrum for the implementation of both 4G and 5G going forward on a dynamic spectrum sharing basis. However, no 5G rollout or type approval of 5G network equipment is allowed until such time that CRAN receives authorisation for the deployment of 5G networks.
In anticipation for a go-ahead to rollout a 5G network, Shanapinda said his company has ambitious projects planned to expand fibre to the home and mobile services.
“Our target is 300 new mobile base stations over the next three years as well as extending FTTH to new areas across the country. The company will also completely revamp the existing billing system and implement a new core system which will allow us to offer truly converged fixed and mobile services to our customers. These projects in unison will enable Telecom Namibia to create superior solutions and experiences for our customers,” he said.
The telecommunications giant has 18,000 km of backbone and access fibre optic cable across the country,which is equipped with a total of 850 Gb/s capacity.
The country’s oldest telco is also connected to some of the world’s most sophisticated submarine cable systems such as SAT3, Seacom and WACS.
Recently the company invested and landed the Equiano submarine cables as part of its efforts towards the digital transformation of the country.
“The US$5 million Equiano investment has the added benefit that it will enable Telecom Namibia a redundant route for our traffic on WACS. Besides investing in Equiano, we are also participating in the 4th WACS upgrade which will increase our existing capacity on this cable,” the youthful CEO explained.
“Submarine cables form a significant portion of the Telecom Namibia backbone that enables connectivity between our continent and the rest of the world. The digital economy is driving the demand for more bandwidth at higher speeds, lower latencies, better reliability at better prices. Having access to the submarine cables enable Telecom Namibia to bring the benefits to our customers,” he expanded.
Shanapinda explained that ICT remains a key player in facilitating economic growth and boost efficiencies in doing business, while a fibre network has the ability to deliver volumes at minimum incremental cost.
“With current economic structure demanding exponential ICT capacity, fibre is able to meet this demand at reasonable cost thus increasing profitability,” he pointed out.
“Over the years, Telecom Namibia has experienced revenue grow and stability driven by the migration from the traditional copper-based services to fibre-based services, delivering exponential capacity, while seeing a drop in the per unit cost and price to customers. This trend is expected to continue for more years to come,” Shanapinda expounded.
He said Telecom Namibia has grown into a regional player providing connectivity to its land-locked neighbouring countries. “Our geographical location combined with a state-of- the-art national fibre network, gives Telecom Namibia a competitive advantage in term of providing stable access to international optical fibre networks at reasonable cost. This distinguishes our company as a key player in interconnecting regional telcos both regionally and globally via submarine cables,” he said.
Shanapinda wants government to move fast on 5G technology in the country, saying the technology is a key enabler towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).