It is now official that chipmaker MediaTek, telecoms firm and mobile phone manufacturer Nokia, as well as STC are the first companies that have successfully verified 3 Component Carrier Aggregation (3CC-CA) in a 5G Standalone (SA) network in the city of Makkah for the first time in the Middle East and Africa.
Carrier aggregation is a provision in 5G, and also in 4G standards that operators use to offer faster internet speeds to customers, and at an increased network capacity.
5G succeeds 4G, which has been around for more than a decade. It was launched locally in 2014 by Safaricom.
5G is also limited to Safaricom now, and the carrier is yet to roll out the service commercially.
However, the said development can be tied to the current batch of MTK-powered smartphones (with Dimensity chips) that are now connecting to Safaricom 5G.
This has been tested using the Reno6 5G, which many of our editors have. Take note, the Android 12 and ColourOS 12 update appears to have toggled the 5G switch on.
You can find out more details about where this was done, and speed tests from this story.
Now, it is worth noting that 5G has all the perks of a futuristic wireless mobile connection. To this end, as phone makers build phones with 5G antennas, carrier aggregation, also known as CA, becomes a pivotal tool that can substantially impact mobile performance for ordinary customers, which is you and me.
At the same time, CA allows telcos such as Safaricom to boost network capacity, to combine spectrum from different frequency bands to enhance coverage and network capacity, providing higher data rates, increased coverage, and superior indoor performance by allowing service providers to make optimal use of 5G spectrum.
It also enables service providers to bring down the cost of deploying 5G networks while enhancing customer experience.
To note, it will take a long time before 5G becomes commonplace. Leading nations such as those in the West are still struggling to sell 5G to consumers because of infrastructural limitations. Locally, only Safaricom has the financial muscle and incentive to launch the service in many towns. Still, Safaricom did announce 5G in April 2021, and it has been a year of virtually no developments on the customer side of things.
Overall, the verification of 5G CA, especially by MediaTek is a good sign because it means that we will start seeing more affordable 5G phones start streaming into the Kenyan market.