Safaricom has become the first telecommunications operator in East Africa to offer 5G services to its subscribers. The firm launched the upgraded network in major towns of Nairobi, Kisii, Kakamega and Kisumu, on Friday.
According to Business Daily, the operator aimed to offset a decline in voice revenue by cashing in on growing demand for mobile data.
“At Safaricom, we are proud to be the first in the country and the region to bring the latest innovation to both our retail and enterprise customers empowering them to start exploring new opportunities that 5G provides,” said CEO of Safaricom, Peter Ndegwa.
In a statement with Mobile World View, the firm stated that it partnered with Nokia and Huawei for the rollout.
As part of its trial, Safaricom will expand to 150 new sites across nine towns in the next 12 months. The decision to launch 5G in the first 4 towns was to test if its users will be able to enjoy its amazing speed of 700 megabits per second(mbps) and 1000 as time goes on.
The 5G supports heavy internet usage and one million devices in a square kilometer unlike 4G which supports 100,000 per square kilometer.
However, Mr. Ndegwa acknowledged that the cost will be a barrier to entry since to access 5G network, you need a device that can support 5G which are expensive to buy, going for at least Ksh60,000.
“With new technology, the uses could be fewer at the beginning but as we test and expand use cases, we expect the experience to be better and the cost will come down,” he said.
He also mention that the firm has in the recent past, has been trying to increase its number of 4G users since only 20% of registered Safaricom users have 4G devices.