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High Cost of 5G Handsets Hinder Safaricom 5G Rollout


There has been so much talk and hype about 5G network but consumers are yet to feel its impact.

Since 2019, telecom companies have made significant steps in bringing 5G, the fastest network ever, to consumers. However, deployment has been slow, with only a handful of African countries having laid down 5G infrastructure. There is still a long way to go, given that even the launches done so far aren’t commercially viable.

In Kenya, Safaricom has cited the high cost of 5G devices as the major factor that has slowed down the deployment of 5G network and sites. The average cost of a 5G-enabled phone is between KES 80,000-KESH100 000 although we have seen companies like Nokia, OPPO and Infinix bringing is 5G devices below

According to Safaricom, there has to be a considerable mass of 5G-enabled handsets before rolling out more 5G sites for the consumer market.

Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa told the Business Daily, “Until handsets that can receive 5G are at a sufficient scale from an individual mobile perspective, there isn’t a big need to have lots of sites that offer 5G. 5G-enabled devices are still very expensive and that’s one of the reasons why we are focusing more on the 4G side and leaving 5G to serve the homes versus your mobile internet,”.

Experts estimate that only about 20 million African users would be using 5G in the next five years, which is a discouragingly low number, going by the estimated population of 1 billion people in the continent.

“5G-enabled devices are still very expensive and that’s one of the reasons why we are focusing more on the 4G side and leaving 5G to serve the homes versus your mobile internet,”  Ndegwa observed.

The net effect of expensive devices, therefore, is that the continent will have to wait longer for 5G to be sufficiently rolled out.

Everything about 5G network is alluring. With an estimated 10X speed faster than 4G, low latency, ability to get more connected devices and implementation of virtual networks, 5G will undoubtedly shape the future of tech consumption.

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Simon W Nderitu

Simon is a tech enthusiast who keeps a close eye on emerging technologies, startups and the general business environment. You will often catch him totally immersed and drooling over Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, IoT and just about any other tech that promises to revolutionize the way we live. Send tips to snderitu@techtrendske.co.ke

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