LTE and online gaming in SA on the horizon

Long Term Evolution (LTE) is the next step for mobile broadband in South Africa, offering far higher speeds and lower latency than current 3G (HSPA) services. The technology further supports download speeds of up to 300Mbps and upload speeds of up to 75Mbps.

As South African gamers who battle with relatively expensive fixed-broadband services which are not widely available, wireless internet connections are often the only choice. Good news is that MTN and 8ta are actively exploring ways to launch commercial LTE services in SA.

MTN is currently exploring the possibility of switching on commercial LTE network within 2012 and has identified 3 key urban cities to which to roll out the network.

8ta is also upgrading its network and getting it ready for a potential commercial LTE launch in 2013.

Vishal Phlad, 8ta executive of mobile products and service, said “LTE will be suitable for gaming as the network technology allows the capability of offering lower latency than existing 3G networks. We, however, are not suggesting that LTE is a replacement for or alternative to fixed DSL type services. There are use cases for both going forward.”

Devan Chetty, GM: Core & IP Planning at MTN SA, echoed this, saying that “LTE would be suitable for gaming as soon as operators make it commercially available to the market.”

Asked if LTE will be ready for gaming services when it launches, Phlad said “Gamers can utilise commercial services immediately. It is expected that an operator has followed a testing and trial process prior to commercial launch to limit issues that may be experienced on a commercial trial.”

Chetty said “MTN has been piloting the Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology for almost a year in order to fine tune the technology and acquire better knowledge and experience about it so that its customers can optimally tap into future services and applications that the LTE ecosystem is expected to provide.”

Speaking to the prioritisation of gaming traffic on LTE networks, Phlad said “the performance of online gaming is a test case that would be considered among other typical activities such as downloads, streaming and video.”

On the same subject, Chetty said “the initial roll-out will not be prioritised for any particular application but rather to get scale, however, it is envisaged that as usage increases MTN will be in a better position to target customer specific needs.”

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