5G is driving conversations in different markets now, especially in Kenya where telco Safaricom has launched the service for consumers in select places in the country and has also offered the same for fixed internet users.

Consumers have also been asking themselves why this development is important, bearing in mind that 4G is already fast enough in meeting their browsing needs. Well, it should be remembered, however, that the spectrum for mobile communications is getting congested. Kenya, for instance, has millions of internet users, so, telcos cannot always meet the demands of these customers.

At peak hours, consumers experience slow speeds or erratic connections, or even loss of service. The same demand will only grow in the coming days. It is for this reason that 5G exists because the network has improved bandwidth and can accommodate more users. Consumers will also be dependent on 5G networks to power their smart devices such as IoT devices, and 5G promises to offer a robust connection with minimal lag, as well as the ability to swiftly compute and compile data. These are some of the merits that we have come to learn, and the consumer will appreciate them over time. However, telcos do not do this by themselves. They work with stakeholders such as chipset makers to ensure that customers have the best experience when they connect to 5G. Some of these stakeholders include infrastructure providers and chip companies such as MediaTek.

MediaTek, Taiwanese company has been riding a wave of success over the last couple of years. At the moment, it’s the world’s leading chipset maker and power 2B devices every year across various segments.

The chips are used for many purposes, such as powering smartphones, feature phones, televisions, and even routers, to mention a few. MediaTek provides chips for the aforementioned devices.

We can go on and on about these numbers, but it wouldn’t be necessary because there are other important things to talk about following our chat with MediaTek MEA Head of Marketing and Corporate Sales, Rami Osman.

Rami mentions that MediaTek has been successful because it understands its market, especially in Africa where they ship 90 million chipsets annually. 

But how did it get here? Well, by serving its consumers in the region for an extended period and working with stakeholders to ensure that customers have the best experience from their MediaTek-powered devices.

This work has seen the company grow its chipset offerings. It has sold millions of devices that are powered by its 4G-capable Helio G chip, which also has other perks such as the MediaTek HyperEngine Gaming Technology.

In the last year or so, it has popularized its 5G chips, named MediaTek Dimensity.

This is accurately so because other manufacturers have placed a premium price on their 5G silicon, which makes it harder for budget buyers to access such devices. The Dimensity 700 series, for instance, is found in a bunch of phones now, which cost as low as KES 30K or thereabouts. 

MediaTek has recently announced its latest flagship chipset, MediaTek Dimensity 9200 however it is not commercially available, yet. For now, customers can enjoy the flagship capabilities of the Dimensity 9000, which is found in phones such as the recently launched TECNO Phantom X2 series. It is also built on the 4nm FinFET process, a world’s first, meaning it consumes less power, has robust computing power, is even smaller in size, and with improved heat dissipation – which makes it superior.

Overall, the MediaTek Dimensity nomenclature is as follows: 9200, 9000+, 9000, 8200, 8100, 8000, 1300, 1200, 1100, 1080, 1050, 1000, 930, 920, 900, 820, 810, 800, 720 and 700.

Now, we wanted to know what’s MediaTek’s overall plan in ensuring that the transition to 5G is improved, and how it works with telcos in Kenya on the same exercise.

Now to note, MediaTek works with a ton of stakeholders. Locally, it works with Safaricom and Airtel. Its focus is on market leaders, and while it would like to collaborate with more players, that is not possible because the African market has more than 100 carriers, and only a few of them have the 5G agenda in their calendars.

“We want to make the migration to 5G smoother for consumers and telecon operators,” says Rami.

The migration from 2G to 3G lasted an extended period because customers were not aware of the benefits of the move. The timelines were shorter for 4G, and MediaTek expects that it will be even shorter for the 5G move. This can be accelerated only if devices are priced aggressively, and telcos offer enough incentives to encourage customers to do so.

Already, device costs are not as low as they used to be, but Rami says that Kenya enjoys some of the lowest smartphone prices. With Kenya’s ever-increasing appetite for additional taxes for digital services, MediaTek says it has streamlined its design, licensing and production supply chains to ensure that it does not increase chipset prices on its side, or else Kenyans would be paying more for smartphones.

“We can’t promise that we will lower our chipset prices in the future. Issues such as COVID and political instability in some parts of the world have made it expensive to manufacture chipsets,” Rami clarifies.

Still, it does not mean that the company will not bring affordable 5G chipsets to the market because that’s its plan to ease the transition. Telcos also need to catch up with their 5G infrastructure, and collectively, the partners will ensure that the migration takes a shorter time.

MediaTek is also ensuring that it is supporting telcos to understand 5G technology, and that also includes sensitizing customers to embrace the technology because many users do not like to move from one generation to another.

There is also the case where 5G consumes data packages faster. Safaricom, for instance, had promised that it would be announcing 5G data bundles this December, but that has not happened, yet. However, we understand from MediaTek’s side that these packages will be affordable, and probably will cost less than 4G bundles because 5G has more capacity (more users can connect to the same tower), and it has a bigger bandwidth.

More will be done in the coming days as MediaTek continues to perform tests alongside its stakeholders. We also expect that the company will be bringing the Dimensity 9200 to high-profile phones in 2023, as well as its new 4G premium chip, the Helio G99. The future will also be exciting when these devices are purchased by more customers, and as carriers, more so Safaricom, continue to expand their 5G footprint.