Nairobi News


Communications Authority calls for cheap 5G phones

By Hillary Kimuyu February 22nd, 2022 2 min read

The  Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) has challenged mobile manufacturers to come up with cheaper devices as the country gets ready to roll out the fifth-generation (5G) technology.

The Authority, through its Director General Ezra Chiloba, in a speech read on his behalf by the Director, Licensing, Compliance, and Standards Matano Ndaro wondered why all the 5G enabled phones appear costly.

“I want to challenge you here to come up with cheaper 5G enabled devices because not everyone can afford what you are selling in the market at the moment,” he said.

“Indeed, the launch of the smartphone is timely as it comes at a time when our Mobile Network Operators (MNO)’s are gearing for the rollout of the 5G technology in the country, with Safaricom PLC having set the pace.”

He said that the availability of 5G enabled devices are key to the access of 5G services and that’s why today’s event is a critical milestone in that journey.

Vivo smartphone joined other mobile manufacturers in launching its V23 5G smartphone in the country, the handset is set to retail at Sh60,000.

Currently, 5G phones in the Kenyan market are few and expensive. For instance, Oppo Reno 6 5G retails at Sh60,000 while Huawei Mate 30 Pro retails at about Sh70,000 and Huawei P40 costs above Sh90,000.

Safaricom last year launched the 5G network in Kenya and became the second country in Africa to roll out the technology to customers, according to GSMA, an organization representing mobile network operators worldwide.

In September, the leading telco said it will increase its fifth-generation sites to 200 by the end of the year and commercialize the super-fast services in 2022.

The deployment of 5G, which offers extremely fast download and upload speeds, presents a myriad of opportunities for all sectors of our economy.

The use-cases for this technology in Kenya are immense, including supporting the country to become an active participant in the unfolding 4th Industrial Revolution.

The technology will come in handy for the millions of Kenyan youth who are hungry for innovation through an increase in virtual networks.

Safaricom chief executive Peter Ndegwa said the company would use up to 200 sites for testing the upgraded network as it seeks to capitalise on burgeoning mobile Internet use in the country.

The 5G service is a central part of its attempts to further expand its data business to counter slower growth in voice calls revenue.

“This is a trial phase and we intend to have 150 to 200 sites coming from the first use case of homes, especially in places where we do not have fibre,” Mr Ndegwa said.

“We will be able to test on such areas and help customers in terms of speed and reliability and from next year we can be able to commercialise a bit faster but I will come with that at the appropriate time.”

The expansion will equip more individuals and enterprises with 5G for use at work, home and when on the move, helping Safaricom to tap into the burgeoning mobile Internet use in the country.

The technology can support up to one million connected devices per square kilometre compared to 4G which can only support up to 100,000 connected devices in a similar area.

This makes it suitable for providing super-fast Internet speeds in high-density areas and for linking thousands of connected devices such as in manufacturing and supply chain management for businesses.

Chipmaker Qualcomm has indicated that 5G could achieve browsing and download speeds about 10 to 20 times faster than those offered by 4G.