According to media reports, the delay in South Africa’s broadcast digital migration is holding back MTN’s and Vodacom’s rollouts of services on their newly acquired spectrum.
The network operators’ deployment of additional 4G and 5G capacity is said to be interrupted due to interference from television broadcaster transmissions.
According to Vodacom’s spokesperson, the operator began migrating its network to the newly acquired bands on 1 July 2022. However, it said it was experiencing interference from broadcaster transmissions.
“We will only be able to use all of the bands we acquired in the auction once the broadcast digital migration process has been completed,” the spokesperson mentioned.
“The reconfiguration of the network and software has progressed smoothly. In addition, Vodacom is actively managing interference from the broadcaster transmissions in the IMT700 band in certain areas,” the spokesperson added.
According to MTN’s corporate affairs executive, Jacqui O’Sullivan, several factors affect their infrastructure deployment — including delays in the analogue to digital migration.
“Deployment of 4G and 5G capacity requires additional power, tower space, and other elements in the technical connectivity also need to be upgraded to support the increased capacity,” O’Sullivan said.
This comes after the Constitutional Court declared the communication department’s 30 June 2022 analogue switch-off date as irrational and unlawful.
Speaking about its 5G network, Vodacom said it would use its newly acquired spectrum to increase its 5G footprint.
On the other hand, MTN said it does not expect any significant performance differences on its 5G network.
“5G speeds and latency will be the same as the current experience since we are deploying with the same frequency bands and bandwidth as deployed with the temporary spectrum,” O’Sullivan added.