Safaricom deploys 5G commercial launch in Kenya, debuts network in East Africa

Safaricom deploys 5G commercial launch in Kenya, debuts network in East Africa

Largest telecommunications provider in Kenya, Safaricom, has rolled out its 5G Wi-Fi network in the country making it the first in the East African region. This comes after its announcement in March 2021 where it stated it has activated its service in Nairobi, Kisumu, Kisii and Kakamega.

According to the press statement on Thursday, the mobile network company is offering three packages of its service in 5G-ready zones via a router at KES 25,000 with a set-up fee of KES 5,000. Customers also have the option to access a router for free after signing a 36-months contract.

“The introductory 5G Wi-Fi plans include: 10Mbps with a usage limit of 300GB at KES 3,499; 40Mbps with a usage limit of 500GB at KES 5,999; and 100Mbps with a usage limit of 1TB at KES 14,999. Customers will be able to continue using the internet at throttled speeds upon depletion of the allocated usage limit,” a part of the statement reads.

Customers using 5G-enabled smartphones such as Samsung Galaxy S and Fold series, Huawei and Oppo 5G devices will be able to access the 5G network; while iPhones and select 5G-capable Samsung devices will require a software update from the manufacturer to access the 5G network.

Apart from its 35 active 5G sites spread across Nairobi, Kisumu, Kisii, Kakamega and Mombasa, Safaricom has plans to expand to 200 sites across the country by March 2023.

Why Safaricom is settling for Wi-Fi

Of the nearly 27 million smartphone users in Kenya, Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa said only about 200,000 are 5G-compatible owing to the high costs of such devices.

To solve this, the network’s Lipa Mdogo Mdogo device financing program would be able to provide 5G data services after it has been deployed. “The shift to creating a fixed 5G Wi-Fi product will see more people adopt the fast internet network for various work. Mobile packages for 5G will be available by December this year.”

“The 5G network will enable our customers to enjoy unprecedented levels of connectivity and low latency. It will also complement our fibre network.”

“We view 5G as being critical in delivering new solutions that will address economic development, healthcare, manufacturing, infrastructure and even delivery of government services,” Ndegwa added.

To enable local use of the network, the Communications Authority of Kenya has made plans to introduce a 5G strategy for the country.

“One of our mandates is to look at the effective and efficient way of allocating spectrum resources,” Director General (DG) of the CA, Ezra Chiloba said.

“In the last few years, we have been developing something we call the 5G roadmap which is providing the national framework on how the sector is going to operate as far as the roll-out of 5G is concerned.”.