Safaricom will prioritize expanding its 3G and 4G network before rolling out 5G, the telco’s CEO Peter Ndegwa has said.
Mr. Ndegwa said they had completed testing and trial for 5G in the country, but would not roll out the 5G network in the short terms as they sought to convert millions of 2G and 3G users to 4G.
“We have tested it (5G) in this country. We will go through conversations around spectrum with 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,” said Mr Ndegwa.
“There is still so much headroom for us to exploit and fully utilise 4G before we go into 5G.”
Safaricom aims to grow its data business due to the saturation in the mobile calls market, which has resulted in lower revenue. The telco has since turned to Mpesa and internet to maintain profitability.
5G is expected to help Safaricom boost its internet business with high browsing and download speeds, 10 to 20 times faster than 4G.
5G users will be able to to download high definition movies instantly, play games on mobile phone with less latency and delays and make clearer video and voice calls over the network.
Safaricom said 77 percent of Kenya’s population had been covered by 4,342 4G base stations 5,314 2G base stations and 5,275 3G base stations at the end of March.
The Lipa Mdogo mdogo scheme between Safaricom and Google has also helped more Safaricom subscribers access smartphones for as little as 20 shillings a day.
Safaricom initially announced plans to launch 5G in Kenya with Chinese company, Huawei. The US and UK have imposed sanctions on China in the past year, resulting in Huawei losing out on business with the western countries.
It is not clear whether the Safaricom-Huawei deal was a topic in the recent US-Kenya trade deal signed mid this year.