South Africa’s integrated mobile network operator 8ta is set to introduce a free trial of LTE, also 4G, a move seen as fulfilling the company’s promise of bringing next generation mobile technology to the country.
The site for the Long Term Evolution (LTE) trials will go live on October 10 at around noon, according to 8ta. The company has asked willing customers to apply and qualify to partake in a free trial across the Gauteng region from November 1, 2012 to March 31, 2013.
The company in a statement said: “The LTE service offered for the trial will be a 50GB data bundle including an LTE enabled device which includes routers and mobile data modems and SIM card.
“The LTE enabled router is enabled to serve up to 32 Wi-Fi enabled devices simultaneously and covers up to 15 metres indoors. The mobile data modem is meant for individual users via USB interface on laptops and desktop computers. The 50GB data bundle will be offered as a free service.”
Amith Maharaj, Senior Managing Executive for Telkom Mobile, told interested customers to “log on to the 8ta website 8ta.com/lte, see the online coverage map and request to participate in the trials.”
“We are excited about this milestone reached and we believe that this trial is a critical step in taking a new technology like this to market,” he said adding that demand for faster, superior mobile data services is mounting and subscribers will have the opportunity to test the fastest data speeds ever experienced in South Africa.
“Our engineers have been testing the technology and have achieved peak speeds of up to 90 Mbps for downloads and up to 25 Mbps for uploads using the appropriate end user device,” said Maharaj.
Maharaj added that LTE will enhance the experience for real time gaming and video streaming.
“The trial will help us better understand the requirements of our customers and the feedback from the participants regarding performance and the overall experience will inform the refining of our commercial offerings to better align with customer’s needs,” Maharaj explained.
Telkom has been testing the LTE service for nearly a year now and has all the needed building blocks required to deliver to its clients. The firm only wants to get feedback from users before it launches out publicly to close what might be the remaining gaps.
According to GSMA, LTE is a mobile network technology that is being deployed by mobile operators on both the GSM and the CDMA technology paths. Depending on the available spectrum, live LTE networks can deliver very fast data speeds of up to 100Mbps in the downlink and 50Mbps in the uplink.
LTE or simply 4G are now live and in use by mobile operators in Europe, Asia and North America and in the United States. Africa is not left behind; according to a report by the Reuters six African markets could have LTE by the endof 2012, with the continents top telecoms betting that LTE is a plus for broadband penetration on the continent.
Globally, there are 28 LTE live networks across 17 markets worldwide. MTN and Vodacom and Safaricom are on the forefront of the technology with both testing it in their areas of operation.
8ta launched in 2010 will be trying it out for its South African consumers and enterprises so as to quicken mobile services in the country. 8ta runs on state of the art Radio Access Network (RAN), Core and IT technology to deliver products that are of high value, simple to use and of high quality.