airtel 5g

Airtel Kenya is set to launch its 5G mobile broadband network next month, taking on its dominant rival Safaricom which launched the service in October last year.

Bharti Airtel (Airtel Kenya’s holding firm) Chairman Sunil Mittal told a press briefing in Nairobi Wednesday that the company is at an advanced stage of 5G rollout and that the launch will happen sometime early next month.

“We are not too far away from our launch of 5G services, sometime early next month. So we are immediately to the last lap of the launch of 5G services,” said Mittal adding that the telco has already rolled out the 4G network in every part of Africa, including Kenya.

In February, Airtel disclosed that its preliminary rollout of the advanced network service would target select high-end Nairobi neighborhoods with the enabled gadgets and purchasing power to ensure business viability.

“Our focus will be on high-end areas where there is demand for high-speed data,” said Airtel Kenya CEO Adil El Youssefi. “We will start with a few areas and then expand to other parts of the country as we see demand.”

5G technology is much faster compared to the currently widely available 4G. Still, it, however, requires more expensive smartphones in addition to the expensive data bundles that are out of reach for the majority of Kenyans.

“5G is a premium service and it will be priced accordingly,” said El Youssefi. “However, we are confident that there is a market for 5G in Kenya and we are excited to be the first to offer this service.”

Safaricom, which was the first to offer 5G services in Kenya, has also prioritized areas with a high concentration of rich and middle-class subscribers.

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They include among others Nairobi’s Kileleshwa, Muthaiga, Karen, Lavington, Two Rivers Mall, and Nakuru’s Greensteds International School.

To date, Safaricom’s 5G service covers 28 towns across Kenya’s 21 counties that include Nairobi, Kiambu, Machakos, Kajiado, Kisumu, Mombasa, Kisii, and Kakamega.

Others are Kilifi, Kwale, Nakuru, Laikipia, Uasin Gishu, Garissa, Kericho, Marsabit, Meru, Nyeri, Siaya and Vihiga.

Safaricom launched its 5G services with introductory offers ranging from Sh3,499 to Sh14,999 per month depending on the speed and data volume in the packages.

Most 5G-ready phones are priced from Sh25,000 to over Sh150,000 and are mid to high-end devices making them unaffordable to majority of the consumers.

Currently, supported smartphones include 5G-enabled devices from the Samsung Galaxy S and Fold series, Huawei, and OPPO 5G devices.

Customers using Apple’s iPhones and select 5G-capable Samsung devices require a software update from the manufacturer to access the superfast network.

Airtel has further plans to add 349 network sites and eyes completion by the close of the year, with an additional 300 sites in the pipeline as the firm moves to address connectivity handicaps that have for long encumbered its users.

“Currently, Airtel ’s network infrastructure spans over 3,200 sites,” said Mittal.

The launch of 5G in Kenya is a significant development for the country’s telecommunications sector and is expected to boost the economy by providing a platform for new businesses and applications.

5G is also expected to improve the quality of life for Kenyans by providing faster and more reliable internet access.

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Nigel Jr.
As a tech enthusiast and expert, Nigel Jr. is dedicated to providing in-depth and insightful content on all things technology. With a background in online journalism, product reviewing, and tech creation, Nigel has become a trusted source for all things tech.

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