Kenya’s leading operator Safaricom has announced plans to launch a 5G network this Friday in Nairobi and western Kenya.
According to Kenya’s Business Daily newspaper, Safaricom will be launching what will be Kenya’s first fifth-generation mobile internet services targeting major urban centres. The firm last year completed testing and trials for the upgraded network, whose 5G technology will be supplied by Nokia and Huawei.
The service will be available in Nairobi and greater western Kenya, including Kisumu, Kisii and Bungoma, areas that have seen increased data traffic.
Kenya had 58.9 million mobile subscribers in the quarter ended September. Of those users, around 42.8 million had mobile data subscriptions, with Safaricom a leading player in the market.
The 5G service is a central part of Safaricom’s attempts to further expand its data business and to capitalise on rising mobile internet use in the country. However, Safaricom subscribers who want to use the service will need to acquire new handsets.
According to Business Daily Safaricom has seen web data revenue grow more than three times over the past five years to Sh49.6 billon (about $451.8 million).
In fact across the market growth in data sales is increasing faster than revenues from voice, and with it competition – as shown by the recent launch of 4G by operator Jamii at highly competitive prices.
Data from the Communications Authority of Kenya shows that Safaricom grew its mobile subscriptions 4.2 percent to 38.144 million in the three months ending in September 2020. Safaricom has said it is targeting about 80 percent of the Kenyan population with its 4G network coverage.