Kenya will now have a second operator bringing 5G to its subscribers. Airtel, the country’s second largest network has officially launched its 5G network. Airtel joins Safaricom who already launched their 5G network last year.
The new network was unveiled by Mr Ashish Malhotra, MD Airtel Kenya alongside Anthony Shiner, Airtel Africa Commerical Officer.
Airtel acquired the 5G spectrum(2600MHz) in February this year with a plan to target specific towns in the country in their public rollout.
It’s worth noting that Airtel launched their 2G network in 2000, 3G network in 2012 and 4G network in 2017.
Airtel’s current infrastructure covers 89% of the country spanning across 3200 sites in 47 counties.
Their 5G network will be available in 16 counties with 370 5G active sites spread across 180 wards. Airtel 5G network is available in specific zones including central business districts, highly populated residential areas, city centers and hospitals. Airtel says that they’ll be clearly marked 5G Zones.
Airtel also launched 5G Home Broad Band plans for Enterprise and SME Unlimited Packages plus providing a 5G WiFi Routers with pricing starting at Ksh 3500 going all the way to Ksh 7500.
- 10Mbps – Ksh 3500
- 30Mbps – Ksh 5000
- 50Mbps – Ksh 7500
Airtel also mentioned volume based data plans for individual homes starting from Ksh 2,999.
You can still use Airtel’s 4G bundles on any network including the 5G network.
They’re currently rolling out 650 additional sites this year with over half of that already deployed. This is their largest network expansion so far.
Communication Authority of Kenya reports close to 400,000 subscribers on 5G in the country which is available in 21 counties.
4G is still king with 21,228,953 subscribers while 3G and 2G have 10,590,246 and 15,768,091 subscribers respectively. Airtel has 17.5 million prepaid subscribers and 95,434 post paid subscribers.
The benefits that come with 5G include high speed and boundless connectivity, reliable and secure internet for enterprises and homes enabling digital transformation in support for industry 4.0 goals.
Other benefits also include boosting tech innovation thanks to the opportunities for tech startups, supporting massive IoT connections, enhanced mobile broadband that supports cloud and AI-based services.
The COVID-19 pandemic sped up the rollout of 5G across Africa. Close to 28 countries out of 54 have 5G with over half of them rolling out commercially and the rest in the trial phase.
High speed internet has been a huge demand for data hungry youth who want it to use for consuming multimedia content(video streaming, music, gaming, live sports, cloud storage), mobile and cloud-based gaming.
5G rollout also depends on policies that enable network investments such as regulators availing more spectrum for faster 5G adoption.
Smartphone manufacturers are also making their 5G devices more affordable so that consumers can connect to 5G network. When 5G started, only flagships and upper midrange smartphones had 5G chipsets powering them. Companies like Infinix, TECNO, Xiaomi and Samsung have started selling affordable 5G capable devices in the country.
During the launch, Mr. Eliud Owalo, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Information, Communication and the Digital Economy in Kenya emphasized the importance of high speed internet especially for digital content creators.
Also present during the launch was Mr. Ezra Chiloba, CA Director General.