Safaricom has obtained prime internet spectrum allocation for 5G rollout. The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) allocated the giant telco 60 megahertz (MHz) spectrum in the 2600MHz band.
“The 2600MHz band is very prime, it was previously used by the security agencies in Kenya but they released it following change in the technology that they use,” a senior source disclosed to the Nation Africa.
Although the source did not reveal how much Safaricom paid, the fee is presumed to be higher than the Sh2.89 billion license fee paid for the 4G spectrum five years ago.
Huawei, which constructed Safaricom’s 5G network, has picked the 2600MHz band in other areas including Thailand, as it permits operators to install base cell towers for heavy data traffic.
Safaricom has been eager to roll out 5G, which is already operational in other parts of the globe. In the last few years, both Safaricom and Airtel have done extensive trials in different parts of the country.
Airtel announced in late 2021 that it had 600 different sites in Nairobi, Mombasa and Malindi where it was piloting its 5G from. Safaricom’s pilot targeted Nairobi, Kisumu and Kisii.
CA said that it will have upgraded some of its fixed wireless access (FWA) network infrastructure which carriers use to bring ultra-high-speed broadband to suburban and rural regions by end of June.
“The authority issues frequency assignments to network facilities providers to deploy network infrastructure and provide connectivity to consumers typically within the 1.7, 3.3, and 3.5 GHz (gigahertz) bands. The 3.5 GHz band, within which most FWA deployments have been activated in Kenya, will be re-farmed from fixed wireless access to mobile wireless access for 5G technology by June 30, 2022” CA said in a report on the allocation of frequencies for the three months ended March.
Despite pressure from the Telcos, CA has not provided a date for the official rollout of 5G. Just recently, the regulator rejected Safaricom’s request to expedite the rollout of the network.
According to sources in the know, the authorities are hesitant to rush the rollout of 5G over concerns that a big chunk of the population will be excluded as they lack the appropriate gear that is compatible with the 5G technology.
To access 5G, subscribers will have to purchase newer handsets that are built to support the network.