4G issues makes iPhone 5 worthless in many African countries
Timothy Sambani a personal friend based in Malawi’s coolest town of Blantyre bought an iPhone 5 two weeks ago while on a tour of UK. His admiration for the Apple brand is next to none. The bad news is that the new iPhone does not support the time division duplex version of 4G Technology that powers his mobile networks in Malawi.His network operator runs on frequency duplex division. Very limited number of buyers know iPhone 5 supports 4G Technology only on the 1.8 GHz band and not on the 2300 MHz band frequencies used by Sambani’s and many other network operators in sub saharan Africa. Long Term Evolution has high spectral efficiency and low latency, offers lower costs for every megabyte transmitted, high throughput and backward compatibility with existing CDMA technologies and operational efficiency.
The fact is that LTE is not yet a 4G spectrum and many analysts expect 4G to come with an advanced spectrum. Despite the many benefits that come with 4G data speeds being at least five times faster than 3G networks, in Africa it has not really translated into extensive Long Term Evolution uptake levels in sub Saharan Africa.In sub saharan Africa, there are very few compatible 4G handsets and to an extent there are huge prices on data usage. Africa’s 4G will depend on the ability to build better economies of scale by attracting customers through offering nationwide 4G roaming which is rare with existing 3G networks.Another challenge is that spectrum availability remains a concern throughout sub Saharan Africa because most of the governments have failed to auctions airwaves in the 700 and 1200MHz band considered thrice more efficient than the 2300 MHz frequencies despite pleas from mobile network operators.