MTN Group staked a claim to being the first operator in Africa to conduct a proof-of-concept test for standalone (SA) 5G following a trial involving Microsoft Azure.

The operator stated it is working with the software giant’s cloud unit to accelerate digital and cloud transformations across the continent. MTN and Microsoft Azure trialled the set-up in South Africa, using all SA 5G core elements including control plane, user plane and management nodes.

MTN is ramping its 5G rollout as it works to cover 10 per cent to 50 per cent of the population in the “medium term”.

It stated the test will act as a “stepping stone” to further cloud innovation as part of plans to advance its Ambition 2025 strategy, which focuses on digitalisation and organisational restructuring.

GSMA Intelligence data showed 27 operators had lit standalone 5G networks by mid-2022.

MTN noted 5G could be transformational for fields including education, healthcare, logistics, manufacturing, agriculture and mining.