The trial will begin with both individual and enterprise customers in Nairobi, Kisumu, Kisii and Kakamega.
As part of its trial, the company plans to expand the number of such 5G sites to more than 150 across nine towns over the next 12 months. The primary objective during the trial period will be to establish if customers can enjoy speeds of up to 700 Megabits per second, with plans to offer than 1,000 Mbps speeds in coming months.
“Today marks a major milestone for the country. With 5G, we aim to empower our customers with super-fast internet at work, at home and when on the move, supplementing our growing fibre network. At Safaricom, we are proud to be the first in the country and the region to bring this latest innovation to both our retail and enterprise customers empowering them to start exploring new opportunities that 5G provides,” said Peter Ndegwa, CEO, Safaricom.
The 5G technology can easily act as an alternative to Home Fibre and Fibre for Business services, targeting customers in places where Safaricom is yet to roll out its fibre network. Enterprise and Home Internet customers on the service will be provided with a 5G router.
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.
“I congratulate Safaricom on this milestone, reinforcing the country’s position at being at the forefront of innovation in the region and the world. 5G technology will usher increased internet speeds and capabilities for millions across the country, laying a strong foundation for a new generation of innovators and entrepreneurs,” said Hon. Joe Mucheru, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Information and Technology.
5G can support up to 1 million connected devices per square kilometre compared to 4G which can only support up to 100,000 connected devices in a similar area. This makes 5G suitable for providing super-fast internet speeds in high density areas and for linking thousands of connected devices such as in a manufacturing and supply chain management for businesses.
Nokia and Huawei have been chosen as the two technology partners to implement the roll out of Safaricom’s 5G network. For mobile internet customers, the service will be available on select 5G smartphones from Samsung, Huawei and Nokia, all available at Safaricom Shops. The company has also revealed plans to later increase 5G internet speeds beyond 1,000 Mbps in later stages of the trial. ■