Nokia and Safaricom have confirmed yesterday’s news that East Africa’s first commercial 5G services have been launched in parts of Kenya, and have added more detail about the technology involved.
Nokia says that its 5G single radio access network (SRAN) technology and 5G FastMile gateways will enable ultra-fast fixed wireless access (FWA) services to Safaricom’s subscribers across Kisumu and the Western Province of Kenya.
Nokia has leveraged its AirScale SRAN platform to enable ultra-low latency, huge connectivity and extreme capacity to support demand. The 5G network utilizes massive multiple input multiple output (MIMO) radio to improve spectral efficiency and throughput capacity. In addition, Nokia says its FastMile 5G gateway provides fibre-like speeds for fixed wireless services to subscribers.
As part of the network, Nokia 5G Cloud Mobility Manager delivers the scalability, flexibility, high availability and performance needed to support the growth of mobile and enterprise services. In addition Nokia’s NetAct network management system helps Safaricom to have a consolidated network view for improved network monitoring and management.
While it is early days yet, Nokia suggests that 5G technology will enable new applications in areas such as virtual reality, augmented reality and artificial intelligence for subscribers and will also benefit enterprises across important energy, healthcare, education, transport and entertainment applications.
In fact at a launch event in Nairobi Safaricom showcased the capabilities of the 5G network with three use cases. In a hologram showcase, the live 5G network was used to ‘teleport’ Safaricom’s executives from a Safaricom office in Kisumu to the launch event in Nairobi. In the second showcase, ultra-HD video communication was made using the 5G fixed wireless access connectivity powered by Wi-Fi-6 with Nokia Beacon 6. The third showcase aimed to demonstrate how the shopping experience could be changed by allowing users to try on clothes virtually.
Equally noteworthy of course is the fact that Safaricom is the first operator in East Africa to launch 5G services. CEO Peter Ndegwa said: “5G capabilities will change a lot of things in unimaginable ways for people and enterprises, playing a key role towards fulfilling our vision to transform lives.”