Pan-African operator MTN followed 5G launches in South Africa and Nigeria with the news that MTN Zambia became the first mobile operator in the country to offer 5G services commercially.
As expected, there was a formal ceremony to mark the occasion, attended by the country’s president and various ministers, as well as senior MTN figures.
Speaking of the markets, MTN CEO Ralph Mupita said, possibly with a nod to private network deployments, that “in Zambia, we see great opportunities in many sectors, and in the mining industry in particular.”
MTN’s 5G services, following 5G trials in the past 11 months, were activated to cover around 65% of the population in the cities of Lusaka, Kitwe and Ndola, as well as parts of Chingola, Solwezi and Kalumbila, about 15% of the population. the population of the whole country. The goal, it seems, is to reach 100% 5G coverage in Lusaka, Kitwe and Ndola by mid-2023, while gradually expanding 5G to other locations.
MTN Zambia describes the introduction of 5G as part of a broader network strategy that includes optimizing and modernizing existing 3G and 4G networks, building a fiber ring in Zambia with MTN GlobalConnect, and extending coverage in more rural areas. .
This is a big blow for what is, according to market research firm Omdia, the second largest mobile operator in Zambia, with around 7.1 million mobile subscribers out of a total of almost 7.9 million subscribers for Airtel Zambia. Player number three, Zamtel, has around 4.2 million subscribers.
However, MTN Zambia may not be the only 5G player in the country for long. In October, Airtel Zambia purchased an additional 60 MHz of spectrum spread across the 800 MHz and 2600 MHz bands for around $29 million. It plans to use the spectrum to expand its mobile and fixed services; that will include the rollout of 5G.