Safaricom has rolled out 5G networks in five counties – Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisii, Kakamega, and Kisumu- enabling customers to access faster internet speeds.
Faster than the 4G network, users can download and stream videos and play videos at neck break speeds.
“5G ushers in an era of new possibilities. The promise of connectivity with low latency and high reliability will enable an extraordinary experience for every industry, business, and society,” Safaricom Chief Executive Officer Peter Ndegwa said during the launch on Thursday.
“The launch of 5G Wi-Fi is the first step in empowering our retail and enterprise customers to explore new opportunities that 5G provides.”
“We, therefore, view 5G as being critical in delivering new solutions that will address economic development, healthcare, manufacturing, infrastructure and even delivery of government services.”
How to access
The introductory 5G Wi-Fi plans include 10Mbps with a usage limit of 300GB at KSh3,499, 40Mbps with a usage limit of 500GB at KSh5,999, and 100Mbps with a usage limit of 1TB at KSh14,999.
Currently, Safaricom has 35 active 5G sites spread across Nairobi, Kisumu, Kisii, Kakamega and Mombasa, and it plans to expand to 200 sites across the country by March 2023.
“The retail prices of 5G phones are more than KSh100,000, putting them beyond the reach of most Kenyans,” said Safaricom Chief Executive Peter Ndegwa in the company’s 2022 sustainability report.
“Until handsets that can receive 5G are at a sufficient scale from an individual mobile perspective, there is an insufficient need to have lots of sites that offer 5G. “Accordingly, we decided to slow down the 5G rollout in Kenya and focus on the 4G network.”
“We will continue working with our partners and leverage our Lipa Mdogo Mdogo device-financing solution to avail more affordable both 4G & 5G smartphones,” Peter noted during the Thursday commercial launch.
“We know that the 5G network heralds an era of intelligent connectivity and will be a key driver of our strategy going forward as we work to enable digital lifestyles for all Kenyans,” said Mr Ndegwa.
Customers using supported 5G smartphones will also be able to access the 5G network and enjoy superfast 5G speeds.
Supported smartphones include 5G-enabled devices from the Samsung Galaxy S and Fold series and Huawei and Oppo 5G devices.
However, the adoption of 5G faces hurdles due to the high cost of 5 G-enabled handsets and data.
The launch of 5G services follows trials with both individual and enterprise customers in Nairobi, Kisumu, Kisii and Kakamega. The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) allocated 60 megahertz of spectrum in the 2600 MHz band to Safaricom for its 5G network in the country.
Nokia Corporation and Huawei are key partners that have supplied the 5G technology. In August, Nokia successfully piloted its 4G and 5G Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) network slicing in western Kenya with Safaricom.