Kenya’s telecom giant Safaricom suspends 5G network launch

Kenya’s largest telecom operator, Safaricom, has put its plans to launch the fifth-generation (5G) mobile internet service in the country on hold

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Kenya's telecom giant Safaricom suspends 5G rollout plans www.emergingbusinesslab.com

Telecommunication giant, Safaricom has halted its plans to roll out the 5G mobile internet service in Kenya, saying it is shifting focus on converting millions of 2G and 3G subscribers to 4G.

In November last year, the telco announced that it aims to provide 100% 4G network coverage across Kenya by the end of March this year.

In its Annual Report for the year to 31 March 2020 (FY19–20), the operator said its 4G network covered 77% while its 3G network covered 94% of the Kenyan population.

Safaricom had hinted at plans to launch and roll out 5G at the end of last year, in major towns in the country, having already conducted trials.

However, Safaricom’s CEO, Peter Ndegwa now says that the company has no plans to launch the network in the short term.

The East African reports that the commercial launch of 5G would have followed the December 2015 launch of 4G, which has helped the telco grow its revenues from data to KSh40.7 billion at the end of March from KSh9.3 billion in 2014.

In the first half of the current fiscal year (FY20–21), mobile data revenue increased by 14.1% to KSh22.23 billion.

Safaricom 5G infrastructure was being built by the Chinese firm, Huawei Technologies.

Meanwhile, Airtel Kenya last year picked Nokia to modernize Nairobi with high speed 4G and 5G-ready hardware, from its comprehensive AirScale portfolio.

The agreement, which runs for three years, will also future-proof Airtel Kenya’s 4G network, giving the telco an easier transition to 5G.

The deployment will consist of upgrading existing 2G, 3G, and 4G radio access network (RAN) coverage in urban, semi-urban, highways, tourist spots CBDs throughout Kenya.

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