South African telecoms operator Vodacom has activated what it claimed to be the first commercial LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) site in the country aggregating spectrum in three different frequency bands. The cellco achieved ‘real-world speeds’ of 170Mbps in the trial, which was carried out in Llandudno (near Cape Town), using 25MHz of spectrum in total – 10MHz in the 1800MHz band, 10MHz (2100MHz) and 5MHz (900MHz). The company said: ‘Llandudno is geographically very unique – an isolated bay area with little to no line of sight to other populated areas of the Cape Peninsula. This presents a unique opportunity to “refarm” a lot of spectrum for LTE without needing to do so in neighbouring areas and – yet again – shows what is possible today with existing technology if enough spectrum is available.’ Vodacom, however, said that it is ‘extremely difficult to replicate these results in other areas as spectrum refarming is not possible without affecting service quality to existing users.’
Elsewhere, South African fixed-line provider Telkom has launched a pilot project in Randfontein to migrate retail ADSL customers from its copper network to what it termed as a wireless ‘fixed-line-look-alike (FLLA)’ platform. The project will test the viability of phasing out old and unsustainable infrastructure in areas with a digital exchange system that is nearing the end of its lifespan, the operator said. Telkom is aiming to replace its copper-based infrastructure with 3G or LTE in 300 areas with exchanges that are currently making a loss. Previously, Telkom said that roughly 390,000 pre-paid fixed line users will be affected by the move.