Fibre or 5G connectivity?
By Melvin Angula
MTC Chief Commercial Officer.
Technology is constantly improving for the benefit of the user, and players in the telecoms and digital connectivity space have the onus to enable a technological-driven society by adopting cutting-edge technologies to unlock and facilitate an agile and seamless provision of innovative products and services to the market.
Under last year’s cabinet resolution on the deployment of 5G, the Communication Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) has since published the strategy in respect of implementing 5G technology in Namibia.
5G, which is the fifth-generation technology standard for broadband cellular networks, developed under the umbrella of the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), is the planned successor to fourth-generation (4G) networks.
Mobile providers began deploying 5G worldwide in 2019, with some 162 commercial 5G networks across 38 countries launched by early 2021, and over 400 5G-compliant devices now commercially available. 5G networks are characterised by high-speed data throughput, low latency, and massive availability of bandwidth. This translates to a highly responsive network, capable of high levels of densification and catering to large volumes of data.
Taken into context, the introduction of new technologies requires the assessment of the business context in which this technology will be utilized and the readiness of various stakeholders to support the introduction and sustainable operation of the new technology.
In network connectivity, the gist of the discussion is centered on speed and latency, which renders Fibre and 5G and the comparison between the two technologies a subject of interest. In Namibia, while the rollout of 5G is impending, the uptake of Fibre is incredible, and with this piece, the intent is to shed light on the subject of Fibre versus 5G technologies.
Globally, the race for better internet speeds has been going on for years, and with the advent of 5G, customers have yet another option. However, how does 5G stack up against fiber, the time-tested approach to delivering high-speed internet? In South Africa, which is similar to the Namibian sector, a recent study titled “5G vs Fibre…” by Hanno Labuschagne aimed to answer this question by comparing the two technologies.
The study found that while 5G is a promising technology with its high speeds and low latency, it still has some limitations compared to fibre. For instance, while 5G may be faster than some fibre connections, it is not as reliable, with speeds fluctuating depending on factors such as weather conditions and the number of people using the network.
Fibre, on the other hand, has been around for much longer and has a proven track record of delivering high-speed and reliable internet. Fibre connections also tend to be more consistent in terms of speed, regardless of the number of users or weather conditions.
However, 5G has some advantages over fibre, particularly in terms of flexibility and accessibility. With 5G, consumers can access high-speed internet from almost anywhere, without the need for cables or fixed infrastructure. This is particularly important in markets where the lack of fixed infrastructure has been a challenge for many consumers.
When it comes to South Africa, the study found that both 5G and fibre are being used, but fibre is still the more popular option. This is likely due to the lack of infrastructure for 5G, as well as the reliability of fibre connections.
Consumer reviews of 5G and fibre in South Africa were mixed, with some praising the flexibility of 5G while others preferred the reliability of fibre. However, it is clear that both technologies have their pros and cons, and consumers will need to weigh up these factors when choosing their internet connection. As digital service solutions providers, we should therefore consider these factors when planning for both technologies to co-exist.
Overall, both 5G and fibre have their place in the market, with each technology offering different advantages depending on the consumer’s needs. While 5G may be the future of high-speed internet, fibre will likely continue to be the go-to option for those who require a reliable and consistent connection.