Kenya’s largest telco has officially launched the first 5G network in the country after months of testing. This move comes at an unexpected time as just a while back, Safaricom said that they would hold-back the launch of 5G to focus on expanding into Ethiopia.
“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 a few months ago.
5G in Kenya
Safaricom’s 5G network will be available in Nairobi and various parts of Western Kenya. This includes Kisumu, Kisii and Bungoma, which regularly experience increased data traffic. Safaricom also said that they would install an additional 150 5G sites across 9 towns in the next year with the minimum expected speed being 700Mbps.
Despite the 5G coverage seeming wide at launch, only a few spots in the areas covered will be able to actually access 5G – this is one of the downsides of the new generation network. Apart from smartphones, specific routers will also able to access the network, making 5G a home internet alternative for those outside fibre coverage.
Current speed tests show users achieving up to 1Gbps as seen in the screenshots below:
Testing #Safaricom5G on Samsung S21 Ultra.
Never clocked such speeds in #the254 even on Fibre.
To get such on mobile is crazy.
— Robert Alai, HSC (@RobertAlai) March 25, 2021
As much as Safaricom subscribers do not need to get a new Sim card to enjoy 5G, users will need 5G enabled devices to be able to enjoy these amazing speed and low latency. Here’s a list of devices that support Safaricom 5G:
- Samsung Galaxy S21 series
- Nokia 8.3
- Huawei P40 series
- Huawei 5G routers and MiFi
The telco noted that iPhone 12 users will have to wait a little longer to enjoy 5G since Apple is yet to release a software update to allow this access.