Safaricom Kenya Launches First 5G Network In East Africa

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Safaricom 5G Launch
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Kenya’s leading mobile network provider Safaricom has today launched a 5G network using Nokia‘s radio and FastMile 5G gateways provide ultra-fast Fixed Wireless Access services to subscribers. At the launch, Safaricom also showcased 5G hologram and UHD video communication using a live 5G network.

Nokia’s 5G Single Radio Access Network (SRAN) technology and 5G FastMile gateways enable ultra-fast Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) services to Safaricom’s subscribers across Kisumu and the Western Province of Kenya.

5G technology will enable new applications in areas such as virtual reality, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence for Safaricom subscribers. It will also benefit enterprises across important energy, healthcare, education, transport, and entertainment applications.

At a launch event in Nairobi, Safaricom showcased the capabilities of the 5G network with three use cases — 5G hologram, Ultra-HD video communication, and virtual fashion shopping. In the hologram showcase, the live 5G network was used to teleport Safaricom’s executives from the Safaricom office in Kisumu to the launch event in Nairobi. And in the second showcase, Ultra-HD video communication was made using the 5G Fixed Wireless Access connectivity powered by WiFi-6 with Nokia Beacon 6. The third showcase of virtual shopping will change the shopping experience allowing users to try on clothes “virtually”.

Initial speed tests run by techweez, during the launch the fastest speed they have so far seen hits 1.3 Gbps (down). Up speeds are pretty normal and match what you would get with 4G standards. This is the same thing in other countries that have had the service for a little longer.

Speaking at the launch, Safaricom’s Chief Executive Officer Peter Ndegwa hailed 5G as a game-changing technology that will amplify innovation across various sectors in Kenya.

“Faster internet also opens up fresh opportunities for business by enabling them to leverage online market places and tap into new customers and operating morals to grow their revenues,” said Ndegwa.

“This will help businesses to reap digital dividends and grow sustainably and be part of the disruption sweeping across industries and sectors. The entry of 5G will enhance these use cases to enabling the deployment of advanced digital technologies such as virtual reality, crowd gaming, autonomous drones, industrial automation, and a wide range of IoT devices.”

Ndegwa was joined at the launching ceremony in Nairobi by the Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communications Joe Mucheru, the Acting Director-General of the Communications Authority of Kenya Mercy Wanjau, Safaricom Board Chairperson Michael Joseph, Huawei top boss, and other officials.

Mucheru said the launch of 5G by Safaricom dovetails into the Kenyan government’s efforts to use technology to enhance innovation in the country, noting that it will reinforce the country’s position as being at the forefront of innovation in the region and the world.

“5G technology will usher increased internet speeds and capabilities for millions across the country, laying a strong foundation for a new generation of innovators and entrepreneurs,” he spelled out.

On her part, Wanjau noted that the new network will propel existing businesses and open up more opportunities for Kenyans.

“The deployment of 5G will go a long way in supporting the government’s plan of rolling out broadband connectivity in the country. Indeed, the potential for the absorption of 5G technology in Kenya’s social and economic ecosystem cannot be gainsaid. The deployment of 5G which offers extremely fast download and upload speeds will thus present a myriad of opportunities for all sectors of our economies,” she said.

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