A mobile signal booster can significantly improve reception in your house, office, car, and wherever you install it. But to make it work correctly and efficiently, it has to be compatible with the bands and frequencies of your mobile operator. Now that South Africa welcomed the first 5G networks, many people are considering 5G amplifiers to improve a signal. This simple guide on 5G mobile signal boosters in South Africa and their frequencies will help you pick the right device.
Why You Need to Keep Frequencies in Mind
To be able to make use of 5G service, you need a 5G-ready cell phone. Things are not much different when it comes to 5G mobile boosters. The reason why 4G devices don’t work with 5G is that they perceive different frequencies. It is the same with us, humans. We can’t hear whales or bats, for example, because they communicate on lower or higher frequencies than those audible to us. That’s why if a cell phone booster can’t ‘hear’ a transmission from a cellular base, it will be helpless to boost anything.
When we say 5G radio signals, we don’t mean some particular frequency or a band. Every telecom company decides on its own what type of radio waves to use – low-, mid-, or high-band, and then they bid for a spectrum within the chosen band. At this stage of 5G rollout, network providers are focused on low- and mid-band spectrums because these radio waves can travel farther (although they carry less data than super- and extremely high frequencies).
At the same time, mobile operators expressed their intentions to introduce millimeter waves (such as 28 GHz, for instance) but this is unlikely to happen in the near future due to two reasons. First of all, a mobile operator must receive special permission (an audio frequency auction will take place later this year). Second, mmWaves will require many antennas. It will take years to make this technology widely available. Until millimeter waves become commonplace, it makes no practical sense to purchase an amplifier supporting them.
Rain 5G Mobile Signal Boosters in South Africa and Their Frequencies
The data-only provider Rain became the first to introduce 5G in South Africa. Right now, the 5th generation technology is available in Johannesburg and Tshwane, and the company intends to cover Cape Town and Durban in 2020. Rain transmits 5G signals using the 142 MHz spectrum in the 3.6 GHz band. So, if you’re looking for a Rain 5G mobile signal booster, make sure it supports the said frequency.
Vodacom 5G Signal Boosters
In May 2020, Vodacom launched its 5G network comprised of 20 cell sites in Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Pretoria. The company admitted that COVID-19 outbreak had fast-tracked 5G rollout. The pandemic induced a 40% increase in data transfer and the company had to keep up. Vodacom doesn’t have an assigned spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band (it is looking forward to the ICASA’s auction), that’s why it relies on the infrastructure of Liquid Telecom. The company intends to purchase a share in the same band, as well as it hopes to utilize the 700 MHz band and 28 GHz mmWave in the future.
MTN 5G Network
MTN 5G network is in the pipeline as well. The company reached an agreement with Ericsson for 5G non-standalone build and is going to install the first antennas in 2020. Just like its rivals, the company desires to acquire a spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band. It is also possible that MTN will be operating on 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, and 2100 MHz bands since it already owns spectrums within those. Be that as it may, it is too soon to talk about 5G boosters for MTN until the telco actually launches its 5th generation network.
Cell C 5G
South Africa’s third-largest mobile network operator has no plans afoot to roll out 5G anytime soon. The company decided to take time to monitor the situation on the 5G market and come up with the right strategy. Clearly, if you are a Cell C subscriber, you don’t need a 5G-enabled booster. You can continue using your existing 3G or 4G amplifier.
Other Things to Consider When a Purchasing 5G Mobile Signal Amplifier
Supported frequencies are the major aspect when it comes to 5G mobile signal boosters in South Africa but it is not the only one. There are a few more things you need to keep in mind.
- Whether 5G coverage is available in your area. 5G boosters don’t create radio waves of 5G spectrum; they just take the existing ones and make them stronger. Therefore, if you have no 5G coverage whatsoever, you don’t need a 5G amplifier.
- Whether you have a 5G-enabled phone. If your phone doesn’t support 5G, you don’t need a 5G booster. It will amplify a 5G signal but your phone won’t be able to capture it.
- What gain do you need? Basically, gain shows the power of an amplifier. The worse the signal, the higher gain an amplifier should have. For example, a gain of +3Db doubles the power of a signal, +10 Db improves it ten times, and +20 Db provides 100 times amplification.
- What coverage do you need? There are mobile signal repeaters for residential property of max 300-500 square meters as well as super powerful commercial models able to distribute amplified signals across 3000 square meters.
- How many simultaneous connections a booster permits? Normally, domestic devices are designed for 1-6 users, whereas more powerful boosters can handle up to 250 connections at the same time.
That was our brief guide on 5G mobile signal boosters in South Africa and their frequencies. We hope it helped you understand how amplifiers work and what aspects to pay attention to when picking one. Do you still have any questions? Then don’t hesitate to drop us a line via our email at email@example.com. We’ll be glad to help you select a product that fully meets your needs.