Safaricom announced the availability of 5G services in Q1 2021. At the time, the carrier said that ultra-fast connection was only available in select places, namely in Nairobi (at Safaricom House) and Kisumu.
The plan was, according to the leading operator, to pilot the service for the better part of 2021.
The commercial launch will likely go live in 2022. That is not a long time to wait, and there is a good reason for this.
Safaricom wants to ramp up the test sites to 200 before the year ends. The sites will be spread across the country, and will likely target major urban centres.
The links above shed more light on the developments that Safaricom has made in terms of 5G testing.
At its most basic, 5G offers much faster data download and upload speeds that ultimately ease network congestion. What’s more, 5G era networks are expected to support the massive rollout of intelligent IoT connections for a multitude of scenarios and provide an enhanced platform to support widespread adoption of critical services. 5G could, for example, enable remote patient diagnostics and monitoring; access to education; fast detection of natural disasters, and smart city infrastructure, among other things. 5G will also potentially accelerate the digitization and automation of industrial practices and processes – Safaricom in a Statement.
Safaricom has further shed more light on 5G piloting. During the release of its 10th Sustainable Report, the carrier said that it has six pilot sites in Nairobi, Kisumu, Kisii, and Kakamega.
The ones in Nairobi have already been noted.
Just the other day, a user in Kisii connected to a test site in Kisii.
A week ago, we also learned that there is a test site in Amboseli at Ol Tukai (if you are ever near the spot and with a supported device, you can test it out).
And according to a member of the team that installed the system at Amboseli, Safaricom is using 3.5 GHz.
In the two cases above, users, including yours truly, tested the service and recorded speed tests.
Safaricom adds that it is ramping up 5G test sites to also supplement the operator’s carrier network because 5G can be used as an alternative to home fibre and fibre for business services.
Lastly, while it is not clear how much Safaricom paid for a 5G spectrum license to the CA, the carrier says it was challenging to gain statutory approval for trial sites.
Securing statutory approval for the 5G trial sites was challenging as we were met with skepticism from certain sectors of the public who were concerned about the impact of 5G on human health, especially its link to the Coronavirus pandemic.
The issues have since been dispelled and addressed following training works developed by the GSMA.