The nation’s first fifth-generation (5G) network was unveiled on Thursday, October 27, by Kenya’s top telecom company Safaricom, setting the stage for the commercial spread of the ground-breaking technology in East Africa.
Customers of Safaricom using 5G-capable handsets in Nairobi, Kisumu, Kisii, Kakamega, and Nakuru began utilizing the 35-site network on October 27. According to the company’s chief executive, Peter Ndegwa, 200 sites would be added by the end of the year.
At the introduction in Nairobi, Mr. Ndegwa remarked, “Customers in 5G-ready locations may now enjoy fast and dependable internet access for their households and their companies.”
Plans are in place to offer 5G data bundles for mobile data, which should be available by December. The packages for homes, however, will be available right away.
With Safaricom introducing a three-tier introductory price, residential and commercial users who validate the network’s accessibility in their area may pay up to Sh25,000 for a 5G router from the provider and a Sh5,000 setup charge.
These include 10 Mbps with a 300 GB cap that costs Sh3,499, 40 Mbps with a 500 GB restriction that costs Sh5,999, and 100 Mbps with a 1 TB cap that costs Sh14,999.
The first six months of the program will be covered by the introductory cost.
Out of Safaricom’s 42.4 million members, 200,000 cellphones currently support 5G, and the company expects device prices to reduce over time to spur adoption and revenue.
We see a substantial decline in cost for 5G handsets, which is why there is a very low adoption of these devices, according to Mr. Ndegwa.
Safaricom’s 5G network was created by Huawei, a Chinese telecoms firm that expressed interest in a partnership to hasten rollout across a variety of industries.
The CEO of Huawei Kenya, Will Meng, said that the company is the largest 5G maker in the world. “Last year in China, we had more than 2.2 million sites, and in Kenya, we now have roughly 100,” he stated.
With Safaricom, we have three 5G innovation centers. According to me, there will be many more applications in the fields of agriculture and education.
Worldwide adoption of 5G is still in its infancy, with advanced commercial deployment in nations including the US, Germany, South Korea, and China.
Safaricom’s 4G coverage presently covers 97% of the nation, and most subscribers are expected to stick with it to get better service.
Currently, 97% of the nation is covered by Safaricom’s 4G network, and for the bulk of the ensuing ten years, it is anticipated to continue to hold this position.
As part of its 5G deployment ambitions, mobile network operator Airtel Kenya earlier this year announced an investment of Sh4.7 billion in the extra spectrum.
The company claimed to have obtained a license for 60 MHz in the 2600 MHz band from the Communications Authority of Kenya, which is valid from July 2022 until 2037.