Safaricom has refarmed (re-assigned) its WiMax frequencies to fixed-wireless 5G service in Nairobi ahead of Communications Authority’s industry forum next month to discuss the nation’s rollout plans.
The Government Business Review (GBR), reports that Safricom was expected to launch the 5G service this week with the regulator confirming that they are in the picture.
Safaricom acquired the WiMax spectrum frequencies (2.5 and 3.5GHz bands) in 2008, after buying out data company OneCom for USD2.6 million (Ksh260 million)
The initial roll out of 5G network could be limited to parts of Nairobi/Westlands.
GBR reports that initial tests by Safaricom have achieved speeds of up to 750Megabits per second although the real service speeds are expected to be much lower than that.
Tests have been ongoing since last year as more sites were set up.
The number of devices in the market that are 5G ready are limited to the Xiaomi Redme K30 and the Huawei Mate 30.
According to the Communications Authority, a number of other players are also interested in rolling out fixed wireless 5G and the regulator intends to hold a stakeholders’ forum in February to address the issue.
Internet data demand in the country has exploded over the last few years putting a strain on the existing 3G and 4G networks.
CA statistics indicate internet subscriptions in the country now stand at about 52 million with about half of that (48.5 percent) being on broadband.
With streaming services becoming ever popular, the demand for bandwidth is likely to scale up as services like Netflix, ShowMax, Amazon Prime, Disney and Hulu stage battles for subscribers in the country.
Internet of Things, also called the Facebook of Things, that allows devices to interconnect over the internet is also seen driving demand.
The international bandwidth available for use in the country stands at about 5,300 Gigabits per second of which 1,500 Gbps is utilized. This means there is headroom for growth.
CA insiders expect Kenya to be among the first countries on the continent to roll out 5G services with Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt as well.
This story was first published by GBR