REGULATORY

Safaricom Secures 2600 MHz For 5G In Kenya

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The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) has reportedly allocated 60 megahertz of spectrum in the 2600 MHz band to Safaricom for its 5G network in Kenya. The decision is notable as only a few weeks ago, the regulator rejected the operator’s request to expedite the rollout of 5G.

Safaricom, along with the country’s other large telco Airtel, has already performed extensive 5G trials and laid the initial groundwork for future networks. Safaricom’s trial began in March 2021 with 5G service activated in Nairobi, Kisumu, Kisii and Kakamega.

The primary objective during the trial period will be to establish if customers can enjoy speeds of up to 700 Megabits per second, with plans ultimately to offer than 1,000 Mbps speeds, the operator said, adding that 5G technology offers an alternative to fiber for homes and businesses, making it particularly attractive in locations where Safaricom has yet to roll out its fiber network.

Chinese vendor Huawei helped build the foundation of Safaricom’s 5G network, despite global tensions surrounding the company. Huawei is also very active in the Thai market, and previously, the vendor’s Manager for Wireless Products Phatcharadhan Phonakkarawat made statements about the 26000 MHZ, calling it the “best option” for 5G in Thailand, suggesting Huawei might feel the same about the spectrum’s role in Kenya’s future networks.

In February 2022,  the director of licensing, compliance and standards at the Communications Authority of Kenya, Matano Ndaro told journalists to expect 5G this year, adding that the regulator has developed a roadmap outlining strategies to facilitate the deployment of 5G technology that includes things like validation workshops, a national 5G forum and the allocation of pilot frequencies.

At the time, the regulator estimated that 3G and 4G coverage in Kenya covers over 96 per cent of the country’s population.

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