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New Opportunities of 5G FWA in Africa, Addressing the Gap in Last-mile Fixed Broadband Connectivity

Nov 16, 2023

[Cape Town, South Africa, November 16, 2023] At the Africacom 5G Summit, GSMA Intelligence cooperate with ICASA, MTN South Africa, and Huawei, released the white paper titled "5G FWA in Africa, Emerging Trends and Opportunities, " which comprehensively analyzes the current development trends and future opportunities of 5G FWA services in Africa.


The "5G FWA in Africa, Emerging Trends and Opportunities " White Paper Release Ceremony

According to Kenechi Okeleke, Director, GSMA Intelligence, 5G FWA has been widely recognized as an alternative to fixed broadband, with 116 operators worldwide having already launched 5G-based commercial FWA services in 57 markets. The maturity of 5G FWA technologies and commerce is bringing new opportunities for digitalization in Africa and helping Africa address the gap in last-mile fixed broadband connectivity.

At present, 30 operators in 17 markets in Africa have launched 5G commercial services, among which 14 operators have launched 5G FWA services. Nearly 10 other African countries have announced plans to launch 5G for commercial use. 5G FWA is 10 times faster than 4G FWA. 5G FWA is not only an upgrade of 4G FWA, but also a pragmatic strategy for mobile operators to expand mobile data services and provide enhanced connectivity services for home and enterprise network devices, opening up new incremental space in the home and ToB markets. Leaders in 5G FWA get the opportunity to compete in a market that remains mostly wide open.

According to the white paper, the development of FWA services depends on various factors, including spectrum availability, 4G FWA availability, CPE price, spectrum slicing technology, and 5G network coverage. In terms of spectrum, the 3.5GHz, 2.3GHz and 2.6GHz spectrums are critical for operators in South Africa to develop 5G FWA. In addition, 2.3GHz and 2.6GHz spectrums have multiple commercial values because these two spectrums can support both 4G and 5G, allowing operators to expand 4G networks while also being used to develop 5G. Multiple benefits from one investment. In terms of CPE prices, GSA data shows that 4G/5G CPE shipments double every year. However, CPE costs in sub-Saharan Africa are far too high, which has become a bottleneck for 5G monetization and FWA market development. The GSMA Intelligence whitepaper recommends that the government reduce taxes on terminal to promote the development of the digital economy. Many operators in Africa have lowered the threshold for market development through CPE trade-in and credit.

In the white paper, GSMA said that connectivity is critical to building Africa's digital economy. 5G FWA is well-placed to play its role in addressing the gap in last-mile fixed broadband connectivity by delivering enhanced connectivity services to households and enterprises. To take advantage of these opportunities, stakeholders like governments and policymakers, operators, service providers, ecosystem partners, need to take steps to facilitate the deployment of 5G FWA networks and stimulate adoption among households and enterprises.

White paper accessible here:

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