Airtel Kenya has upgraded over 600 sites in Nairobi, Mombasa and Malindi to ensure that they are 5G ready – this comes shortly after rival telco, Safaricom, launched the first 5G commercial services in East Africa.
“These 600 sites are now 5G-ready. We don’t have to make any further modifications to the network. We will just get the spectrum and decide when to switch on,” says Prasanta Das Sarma, MD of Airtel Kenya.
According to Business Daily, the new 5G network will “give consumers Internet speeds of 700 megabits per second, more than three times faster than the current 4G network, allowing operators to offer an alternative service for homes and offices in areas which are not currently covered by its fibre network”.
Sarma also revealed that subscribers can hope to switch to the 5G network within one to two years, around the same time that the telco believes 5G devices will become more affordable.
“The 5G handsets right now are obviously very costly and see few buys. We feel that a reasonable price will start coming in one and a half to two years,” says Sarma. “That is the time we feel we will be able to switch on our 5G network. But if things happen faster, we are ready for it.”
Airtel Kenya began work on its 5G network last year. Since then, the deployment of future-proofed network infrastructure has been expected to cover hundreds of sites and include upgrading existing 2G, 3G and 4G radio access network (RAN) coverage in urban, semi-urban, highways, tourist spots and central business districts in Nairobi and the rest of Kenya.