News surrounding Safaricom 5G rollout has been in the headlines since January 2020, with speculations that the next-generation mobile network would be launched in the country early February.
While all this was proven to be rumours after February came and passed, we’re in December in case you forgot, 5G news has resurfaced once again, this time around with reports of 5G cancellation, at least for now.
The Business Daily reports that Safaricom has decided to shelve plans to launch 5G in the country, a launch that was supposedly scheduled for December 2020. According to the report, Safaricom’s decision to cancel the launch of 5G has been fuelled by pressure from the U.S., who have been at loggerheads with Huawei, who is Safaricom’s network equipment supplier.
“We have tested it [5G] in this country. We will go through conversations around spectrum with the government in the background. But in terms of immediacy, we are not intending at this stage to go big on 5G in the near term. There is still so much headroom for us to exploit and fully utilise 4G before we go into 5G,” said Peter Ndegwa, Safaricom CEO.
The benefits of 5G are vast, including faster download speeds, better streaming quality and a smoother experience overall while using the internet over 5G. While a 5G rollout would mean big business for Safaricom, Kenya just isn’t ready for 5G.
The country hasn’t seen a single launch of 5G devices in the country, save for the iPhone 12 Pro models since the Samsung flagship devices sold in the country are the 4G variants. Safaricom’s decision to cut 5G plans has also been made due to their current focus on entering the Ethiopian market which has seen the telco seek a KES 55 Billion loan as it plans to expand its operations.
On mobile network plans, Safaricom says that it will continue to focus on 4G expansion, which it says constitutes 77% of its network coverage. Despite this impressive mark, 4G users in Kenya still remains low, a number Safaricom plans to change by adding at least four million new 4G users through their Lipa Mdogo Mdogo scheme.