Rain 5G, Rain 4G / LTE; Unlimited Data Network in South Africa

Rain launched its data-only network in 2018 and has since been embraced by heavy data users in South Africa.

The company behind the Rain network evolved from WBS (the same company that owned and ran the ancient iBurst network in the past) into the data network we have today. Due to some historical circumstances, the company has access to very good radio frequencies that are ideal for operating a 4G/LTE network.

Rain 5G

Launched in September 2019, Rain’s 5G is the first openly available commercial 5G network in Africa. It started building the 5G network in October 2018.

Branded as “5G at Home”, the fixed service is currently limited to some suburbs of Johannesburg and Tshwane (Pretoria) in the Gauteng province with plans to extend it into Cape Town, Durban and other major metropolitan areas of South Africa in 2020.

rain uses its licensed spectrum in the 3600 MHz bands to deploy the 5G part of the network. This frequency band, together with the NSA architecture, allows rain to construct only a relatively limited number of new sites, and yet still provide significant coverage.

While the network promises download speeds up to 700 Mbps, I have experienced ~ 300 Mbps in Randburg and Rivonia. Network performance is obviously dependent on various factors.

The service cannot be activated unless a minimum download speed of 80 Mbps is reached.

Rain 5G Prices & Devices

The 5G service is available on a 2-year contract at R1,000 per month and comes with a Huawei 5G router.

As of 25 Feb 2020, Rain now offers two different plans to cater to different segments of the South African home broadband market, as listed below.

StandardPremium
Speeds up to 30 MbpsAverage speeds over 200 Mbps
Standard quality video streamingHigh-quality video streaming
Easy upgrade to 5G PremiumMultiple HD streams
R699 per monthR999 per month

Considering Rain’s 5G is not a mobile service, it currently only works with their fixed 5G routers. Huawei 5G CPE X (indoor/outdoor) and Huawei 5G CPE Pro (indoor only) are two routers that Rain supports. The devices offered are reportedly network-locked.

Based on an inquiry I made with Rain, the Huawei 5G CPE Pro unit cannot be swapped for the CPE X unit. So if you joined “too early” as I did, you’re stuck with the router that cannot be installed outdoors or you can buy and connect an external antenna to it.

Rain 4G / LTE

This was Rain’s initial service offering and is available across major cities and towns across South Africa.

Unlimited Data

One of Rain’s current service offering under LTE is an unlimited data model during the off-peak period with its peak period being between 6 pm and 11 pm. Users are able to cap how much data they wish to use per month, during the peak period. The service is available at R250 per month.

Rain also offers a 2nd pricing model at R50 per Gig of data for those who choose not to opt for the unlimited model.

A 3rd Rain 4G option was introduced in the 1st quarter of 2020 with unlimited data on a 24/7 basis priced at R479 per month.

4G Sign-up

One can signup for the service through Rain’s website provided you fall within their coverage area. You would need to have your ID or Passport handy when the courier delivers the SIM pack.

Another option is to buy the SIM pack from Takealot.com for R1. When you go this route, you must have a South African ID Book or Smart ID. You would need to complete the RICA process by yourself through the internet.

After the SIM has been successfully registered, it would be active within an hour.

You cannot make/receive calls using the Rain SIM. While you can receive activation text messages from Rain directly, you cannot send messages.

Discontinued Fixed LTE

It also initially offered a fixed-LTE service via independent Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like Afrihost and WebAfrica but cancelled this due to capacity constraints after its network was overwhelmed with traffic.

Compatible LTE Devices

Rain is operated on the B3 1800 MHz and B38 2600 MHz bands/frequencies. Thus, any smartphone, tablet, MiFi device or LTE router that supports those bands would work on the rain network.

Review

I have used both of their 4G and 5G services for months now and can form an opinion.

Rain’s 5G network offers a good value for money if you need a fibre alternative and live in an area without fibre coverage. It may not be the best choice for a business considering load-shedding affects their uptime. This is a fixed service and not offered for smartphones as of February 2020.

Their 4G mobile service offers excellent value for money at R250 per month – most of the time. The quality of the network varies by location. It can be very fast in some and just average elsewhere. For example, there is no coverage within the terminals of OR Tambo International Airport and coverage on national highways is patchy at best. It is usable within Johannesburg.

Are you a Rain subscriber? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

50 Comments

  1. I use their 4G – 19 hour Unlimited package. On rainy or cloudy days, the service has been very poor but it seems to have improved over the last 2 weeks where days have been cloudy but service was still available. When it rains, forget about RAIN. It doesn’t work and they NEVER respond to email queries.

  2. The connection is very bad!! Not sure if I still want to continue using them. Would rather find something faster and able to take the load. Have been struggling with connectivity for days yet I have to pay and then to top it off you can never get assistance when calling its just pathetic.

  3. Rain is pathetic, I am on their 4g 24/7, 0.00mbs speed tests nothing can function, their is no support , they take your details and nothing is done, of late their just is no support. pathetic service!!!

  4. i’m only able to stream and download between 2am and 6am , after that is a disaster , I regret for using rain .

  5. Please stay away. It looks promising when advertised but its pathetic. I regret taking a 4g unlimited. I bought it and worked only for 3 days and after that no connection at all. They need to be reported. It’s a scam, a reap off.

  6. Rain 5g is the most unreliable network in Africa, tech support is non existent, they are quick to take your money but will disappoint you!

  7. If there was a way to give a negative rating, I would do so in a heartbeat.
    I started using RAIN last year September. Ordering and delivery was a breeze, and the first few weeks internet speed was exceptional. By November, the internet speed had been so appalling, and on some days there was no connection. Customer service is nonexistent, and if you do get a response weeks later, you would have probably fixed the issue by then.
    I did not use my RAIN SIM card for the entirety of March and April, yet I received a message saying I have been debited R158,33 for April’s usage. My data plan is R250 unlimited, plus 1GB during peak hours, so it was R300 in total per month. Therefore it makes no sense for them to take money for something I did not use, as I had canceled my card in the second week of April and had not been using it prior. Out of all the bad service I have received before, this surely takes the cake.

  8. How can I cancel rain I ha e tried even the bank cannot help it just doesn’t work and I am still payin please if Som1 knows how to cancel please reply

    • I just got two sim cards today for me and my girlfriend. I just sent her this comment thread, I have never seen any product get such bad reviews, I am super skeptical of using it now, scratch that I just won’t use it. But If I use their initial 7 day free unlimited data, does it Mean I’ll be locked in with them?
      I wanna know if I can just use them and discard them like they did many in this comment section

  9. I’m using a Rain 4G network is terrible. I wont subscribe. I have Telkom 4G as well. The two compared feels like rain is using 2G or something out of this world. No network at all.

  10. How do i register the rain sim card online?…. after registering how do i get data loaded and payment procedures, what are the means of paying for the monthly data?

  11. I emailed RAIN at the beginning of APRIL 2020, telling them that I have NO INTERNET CONNECTION whatsoever and requested that they assist me, received no response . After a few days, I emailed them again, but still, no response! They deducted their R250 from my account at the end of the month for sonething that didn’t and still doesn’t work! Their customer service sucks, they ignore emails, but deduct money. Complete RUBBISH!

  12. Please stay away. I also got 5g but no connection at all. Crying for my R699 paid upfront. No any respond for email queries

  13. dont use rain they do false advertising telling you of best speeds and all but all that comes to nothing. You are better off donating to charity than giving money to liars!!

  14. My girlfriend was so excited for this rain thing, but I cannot I’m good conscience encourage her to go through with it or any of my friends or family.This is something I can only encourage my ex to join😂

  15. Rain Is garbage Waited an Entire Month for delivery and this is my second week waiting for activation. If know how to activate it plz tell me but seriously there are no words to describe how bad their customer service is.

  16. I got the sim and have paid for 2 months but have never used their service. Could never connect. Their support is terrible. Now I cannot cancel because they are unreachable except for their email responses which say someone will contact you. They never do!

  17. ive just ordered a rain sim from Mr delivery , as i saw it was R1 for the sim , so i thought what the heck let me see …. been trying to activate it for the pass hour and no luck, keeps getting a error message after putting my card details in ….. after reading these comments , im very scared to even touch that sim

  18. I am using rain on the outer edges of the 4G network close to the N1-north at Whalmansthall in the rural areas of Pretorai. Although I only have one sweet spot in the house, it works like a dream through my Vodafone mobile router connected to my ASUS router. Running at 11-14 mbits/s, it is very stable since I upgraded to the R478 package.

    I want to sign up now for an additional sim on the R699 5G package to see if it will work on the 4G with a stronger signal.

    But I see from all these reviews people are waiting very long and that Rain never gets back to you – I think i might go to their Bryanston offices next week to see if a sit-in could work to see the CEO or someone that will understand that we need them as a more cost effective alternative.

    I really do not understand SA businesses. They seem to have been knocked out by COVID19.

    If you are the CEO or someone with some pull at Rain reading this, please find my mail on your systems and call me back !!!!

    Regards
    Ernst

  19. I am extremey dissapointed by the service, I have emailed in so many times and I have even sent facebook messages and yet no one has gotten back to me. Thank you for having someone call me a few days ago but guess what I’m still stuck in the same place with very bad internet connection.

    I’m currently working from home and it’s frustratung that I have to miss out so many days of work.

    Please get back to me as soon as possible.

    Abigail

  20. Received my sim a few hours ago and got an email saying sim has been activated. But I can’t access the Internet. And worst of all, their support is only via messengers. There’s no call centre for help

  21. New here. Just got 4g Sim today. Crap. Broadband speed test 0.2 down and 0.1 upload (NOT JOKING) (and that’s if you lucky)

  22. There is Rain coverage in my area. Apart from ur email, I have not received any other response from Rain assisting me with tech support.

  23. I received my Rain Sim card yesterday. So far the only problem i have had is that i can not send emails on my outlook, but i can receive!
    I have logged calls with Rain, but so far i have had no joy.
    Anybody know an outgoing server i can use to sent mails?

  24. This is a disaster network for sure, nothing works not the sim card not their support services and not even their call center the whole thing is a scam.

    • Hi there. I have been cut off for some reason? I’ve just paid R729 for my 24/7 sim and 6-11 peak sim. I can’t even get a decent reply from the agent when I email them. I am told to pay another 250 odd rands to reconnect. So now my 729 that I paid is for what? I understand in I paid late but jesus don’t cut off both simcards. I’ve almost spent 1k for this pathetic service. *** *** ***** please give me a call and fix this. *******@gmail.com I can’t do any work and the speed is 40kb/s on both sims expect for 3am. I’ve been with rain since 2018 and never had this problem. I would hate to cancel over something so stupid.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.