(Ecofin Agency) - In 2020, when it began 5G testing, Safaricom did not plan to proceed to the commercial launch so soon. The operator changed its mind due to demands for increasingly high data capacities.
Kenyan telecom operator Safaricom announced, today, the commercial launch of its fifth-generation (5G) mobile network. The operator thus becomes the first Kenyan mobile operator to launch this latest-generation technology that will allow access to ultra-fast connectivity for its subscribers.
Currently, Safaricom has 35 active 5G sites spread across Nairobi, Kisumu, Kisii, Kakamega, and Mombasa. It also plans to expand to 200 sites nationwide by March 2023. The service is currently available via a 5G Wifi router for homes and businesses in areas already covered by the company's 5G network. The company added that subscribers using 5G-enabled smartphones will also be able to access the network and enjoy superfast speeds.
In March 2020, Safaricom earnestly began preparations for the launch of ultrafast connection in Kenya. It initiated a pilot phase in Nairobi, Kisumu, Kisii, and Kakamega with the expertise of Huawei and Nokia. It also started deploying infrastructure to support the 5G rollout.
In May 2022, it secured 60 MHz of spectrum in the 2600 MHz band from the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) for 5G commercial deployment. A few days later, the operator said it would momentarily slow down the 5G move to focus on 4G, partly due to the cost of 5G-enabled cell phones.
“We believe in the transformative power of the internet and will continue to deliver the most advanced technologies towards enabling our customers enjoy a digital lifestyle. The launch of 5G Wi-Fi is the first step in empowering our retail and enterprise customers to start exploring new opportunities that 5G provides,” said Peter Ndegwa, CEO of Safaricom PLC.
Isaac K. Kassouwi