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Safaricom increases sites in preparation for 5G commercial launch

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In March 2021, Safaricom, Kenya’s leading telco launched the 5G technology with 15 sites in the country and has announced plans to increase the sites to 200 by the end of the year and commercialise access to super-fast connectivity in more towns.

The 5G network was launched in major urban centres, including Nairobi, Kisumu, Kisii and Kakamega, all of which routinely witness increased data traffic. Now, with the addition of 150 sites, the telco says, the technology will be applied on a trial basis and that it does not account for the big part of its capital spending for now.

Both Safaricom and its closest rival Airtel Kenya are in the race for the superfast Internet, with priority given to urban centres such as Nairobi.

Airtel Kenya recently upgraded 600 network sites to meet 5G mobile Internet service capabilities in readiness to rolling out the superfast services in Nairobi, Mombasa and Malindi.

However, many of Kenya’s customers are still on 3G despite the prices of the cheapest 4G handsets now averaging between Sh5,000 and Sh6,000. High prices may be a put-off for millions of subscribers willing to switch over from 4G phones to 5G despite the increased appetite for services such as ultra-high video resolution streaming and real-time 3D gaming.

Currently, 5G phones in the Kenyan market are few and expensive. For instance, Huawei Mate 30 Pro retails at about Sh70,000 while Huawei P40 costs above Sh90,000.

The expansion will equip more individuals and enterprises with 5G for use at work, home and when on the move, helping Safaricom to tap into the burgeoning mobile Internet use in the country.

By OTIATO GUGUYU, Business Daily Kenya

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