Safaricom has launched 5G services in Kenya, becoming the first telecoms operator to bring 5G to East Africa.
Huawei and Nokia are the telecom network partners of Safaricom for launching 5G network in Kenya.
Safaricom, part owned by South Africa’s Vodacom and Britain’s Vodafone, wants to boost its fast-growing data business, amid increasing demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic forcing people to work and learn from home.
Safaricom said last year it would consider Huawei for its 5G network rollout. The United States has urged countries not to include Huawei in their 5G plans, citing security concerns, which Huawei has denied.
Safaricom is the market leader in the mobile data segment in Kenya, with 67.5 percent of total users as of last September, statistics from the regulator Communications Authority of Kenya showed.
The company has a 35.6 percent share of the small but growing internet to home and office by fibre market, CAK said.
The new 5G network will give consumers internet speeds of 700 megabits per second, more than three times faster than the current 4G network, the company said.
Nokia in a statement said its 5G Single Radio Access Network (SRAN) technology and 5G FastMile gateways enable Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) services to Safaricom’s subscribers across Kisumu and the Western Province of Kenya.
Safaricom showcased the capabilities of the 5G network with three use cases — 5G hologram, Ultra-HD video communication and virtual fashion shopping — in Nairobi.
Peter Ndegwa, CEO of Safaricom, said: “We are the first mobile operator in the East Africa to launch 5G services, bringing the benefits of 5G technology to our customers.”
The company plans to expand the number of such 5G sites to more than 150 across nine towns over the next 12 months.
Additionally, the 5G service will be available on mobile phones beginning with the Huawei Mate 30 Pro and P40 today, and from the end of April 2021 on the Nokia 8.3, Samsung Galaxy S21 series, Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 and Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G.