South African data-only mobile network operator Rain is launching a mobile 5G product in early 2023, according to Johan van Zyl, co-CEO of shareholder African Rainbow Capital (ARC).

In an interview with MyBroadband, van Zyl stated that Rain wanted to add mobile 5G to their current 4G product which he added was always supplementary to its fixed wireless Internet offering.

Speaking on Rain’s fixed 5G product, in which the network has carved out a significant market share in, van Zyl said that the company’s market share still has not taken a hit despite an increase in competition.

“We already have substantial market share in the fixed space. We had a bit of a run-up front where we didn’t have much competition regarding 5G […]there are now several competitors, but we haven’t seen demand for our products decline,” van Zyl said.

Vodacom launched the first 5G network in South Africa, which also happened to be the first in the continent, in May 2020. MTN followed the next month and it has since garnered over 1,000 5G sites across several spectrum bands, according to its latest financial results.

Last month, when Rain surprisingly announced its intention to approach the board of Telkom, the third largest mobile network operator in South Africa, about a possible merger, it stated that a combination of the two would make strides in disrupting MTN and Vodacom’s dominance.

“The number of combined Rain and Telkom [5G] sites will be equivalent to that of Vodacom and MTN, and the avoidance of duplication would result in material capital and operational cost savings,” the network had said.

Despite the network being ordered to retract the announcement by South Africa’s Takeover Regulation Panel for not following the proper channels, Rain made it clear that it will make a formal and non-binding offer to Telkom in due course.

In its financial results released this week, ARC Investments, which is the second largest shareholder in Rain, stated that the network’s 4G and 5G sales were one of the reasons it attached a P17.9 billion (~$1 billion) valuation on it.

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