Kenya’s Safaricom targets more fixed internet users with 5G network

Oct 27 (Reuters) – Safaricom, Kenya’s largest telecommunications operator (SCOM.NR) launched its 5G broadband internet service on Thursday, becoming the first company to commercially deploy the technology in East Africa.

The company, whose internet delivery business is one of its fastest growing, uses equipment from Nokia (NOKIA.HE) and Huawei (HWT.UL) to power its 5G network.

Safaricom, which is partly owned by South African Vodacom (VODJ.J) and the British Vodafone (VOD.L)offers Wi-Fi subscriptions first, as it tries to capture a bigger share of the landline data market.

“We… see 5G as essential to delivering new solutions that will address economic development, healthcare, manufacturing, infrastructure and even government service delivery,” Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa said. at a network launch ceremony.

While Safaricom dominates the mobile data market – with a share of around 65% – it only has around a third of the landline data market, according to data from the Communications Authority of Kenya.

Besides the Wi-Fi market opportunity, the initial focus on 5G Wi-Fi rather than mobile is due to the fact that there are still relatively few 5G-enabled devices in Kenya, the company said. .

Of the nearly 27 million smartphones in use in Kenya, Ndegwa said only about 200,000 are 5G-enabled due to the high costs of these devices.

But prices are falling rapidly and companies such as Safaricom are expanding their funding models, which should expand access, he said at the launch.

Customers with compatible phones will soon be able to use the network, however, the company said, when it begins selling 5G data plans.

The company has 35 active 5G sites in Nairobi and other major cities and plans to increase that number to 200 by March next year. He started testing the network last year.

The US government has urged countries not to include Huawei in their 5G plans, citing security concerns that Huawei has denied.

Reporting by Ayenat Mersie; edited by Hereward Holland and Jason Neely

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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