Safaricom Announces Launch Date for Commercial 5G Network

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Peter Ndegwa, CEO of Safaricom. Image sourced from TechWeez

Safaricom has announced that it will increase its 5G sites by 200 by the end of 2021, and launch a commercialised version of its 5G services in 2022.

Kenya’s leading telco launched 5G technology for the first time in the country in March, starting with 15 sites. Now the telco says it wants to take the supremely high-speed internet to additional towns.

Peter Ndegwa, Safaricom CEO said Wednesday that the company would use up to 200 sites for testing the upgraded network as it seeks to capitalise on the country’s nascent Internet use which is slowly growing.

Safaricom’s 5G service is also hoped to be a central key of its attempts to further expand its data business in order to counter the slow growth in voice calls revenue.

“This year is a trial phase and we intend to have 150 to 200 sites coming from the first use case of homes, especially in places where we do not have fibre,” Ndegwa said.

“We will be able to test on such areas and help customers in terms of speed and reliability and from next year we can be able to commercialise a bit faster but I will come with that at the appropriate time.”

In March, the Vodafone subsidiary launched the 5th generation network in major urban centres, including Nairobi, Kisumu, Kisii and Kakamega which all routinely see increased data traffic.

Safaricom says that currently the technology will be applied on a trial basis and that it does not yet account for a big chunk of its capital spending.

By the end of March, Safaricom had 5,526 2G base stations and 5,500 for 3G. The telco has also been focusing on its 4G services, by the end of March its 4G base stations grew 24.1% to 5,387.

Business Daily reports that both Safaricom and closest rival Airtel Kenya are embroiled in a race deploy 5G services commercially, with priority given to highly populated urban areas like Nairobi.

Airtel Kenya recently upgraded 600 of its network sites to enable 5G mobile Internet service capabilities in preparation to roll out the 5th generation services in Nairobi, Mombasa and Malindi.


By Luis Monzon
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