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Safaricom to launch 5G mobile internet services on Friday

SCI & TECH
By Fredrick Obura | March 10th 2021
Safaricom Chief Executive Officer Peter Ndegwa (PHOTO: FILE)

NAIROBI, KENYA: Safaricom will on Friday unveil Kenya’s first fifth-generation (5G) mobile internet services.

The service targeting major urban centers will be launched in partnership with leading global 5G suppliers the Nokia Corporation and Huawei.

According to sources, the 5G service will be available in Nairobi and the greater Western Kenya region.

Safaricom reportedly completed testing and trial of the superfast internet service and planned to switch major urban centres to the service before the end of December last year.

Mid last month, the Kenyan government said it will unveil its strategy for deploying 5G networks by September, in a move that will usher the country’s technology sector into a new era.

Industry regulator Communication Authority of Kenya (CA) said the legal groundwork to guide the commercial roll-out of 5G was at advanced stages, with Kenya set to be among the first countries in East Africa to adopt the technology.  

“We are on the path to 5G together with the rest of the world, and are keenly watching the developments in the global market,” said CA Director General Mercy Wanjau. “There are countries in Africa like Nigeria, South Africa and recently Zambia that are further along with deployment and we are learning from how they are doing it.”

The adoption of 5G is still low, with nations such as the US, Germany, South Korea and China being at advanced stages of commercial deployment.

Spectrum guidelines
A recent report by the mobile operators lobby GSMA says there will be commercial 5G in at least seven markets in Africa including Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa on 28 million connections.

“This view is supported by the GSMA 5G Market Readiness Index and the GSMA Intelligence 5G in Sub-Saharan Africa Survey, with indications that some countries, such as South Africa and Kenya, are moving quickly towards a state of readiness,” noted GSMA.

CA says the release of the spectrum guidelines last year is part of the plan to ensure the sector is adequately prepared to adopt the transformative technology.  

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