Airtel upgrades sites to support 5G technology

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Airtel-Kenya-Managing Director Prasanta-Das-Sarma.
Airtel-Kenya-Managing Director Prasanta-Das-Sarma at a past summit. PHOTO/COURTESY: Corporate Watch

Airtel Kenya has upgraded 600 of its sites in Nairobi, Mombasa, and Malindi to support 5G technology in the country as the telecoms provider eyes a larger piece of the data market dominated by rival Safaricom.

According to the telco, upgrading to 5G will allow it to cash in on the fast-growing demand for reliable internet services in the country which has increased significantly owing to Covid-19 restrictions that have seen employees and learners work and study from home respectively.

“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,” Airtel Kenya managing director Prasanta Das Sarma is quoted as saying by the Business Daily.

The 5G network deployment will offer customers’ internet speeds of up to 700 megabits per second, a speed that is approximately three times faster than any current 4G offering. This will present customers with a substitute service for homes and offices that have not taken up the telco’s fibre network.

Customers looking to capitalize on the new technology will be required to switch to 5G compatible mobile devices first which will enable faster download and upload speeds that in the long run ease network congestion.

Subscribers who want to use the superfast Internet will need to acquire new handsets that are compatible with 5G before they can enjoy the service. The devices offer much faster data download and upload speeds that, in the long run, ease network congestion however the 5G cellular devices are currently expensive with the phones currently retailing at between Ksh. 50,000 to Ksh. 70,000.

Safaricom became the first telco to offer the superfast 5Gservices in the region last month when it rolled out 5G trials for its individual and enterprise customers in Nairobi, Kisumu, Kisii, and Kakamega. As part of its trial, the company plans to expand the number of such 5G sites to more than 150 across nine towns over the next 12 months.

RELATED: Safaricom launches 5G trials in Kenya

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