Airtel Kenya has announced it upgraded some of its sites to 5G, in some respect the announcement is a bit confusing since users will not be able to connect to the next generation of mobile internet just yet. The move follows a successful rollout of 5G network by Safaricom in some Kenyan towns including, Nairobi, Kisumu and Kakamega. With dwindling revenues from voice and text messages, which have for decades accounted as the most income earners for mobile operators, telco’s are now exploring mobile data services as an alternative revenue generator.
According to Airtel Kenya, moving to 5G platform will give it a head start to cater for a growing demand for mobile internet services in the country. Airtel Kenya is the second largest mobile service provider in the country after Safaricom which pioneered 5G network in Kenya. As per the operator’s data, over 600 sites in Nairobi, Mombasa and Malindi are now 5G ready.
Why you still can’t access 5G on Airtel network with a supported device
While the announcement was met with excitement, Kenyans should take this news with a pinch of salt for various reasons. To start with, the upgrade is majorly on infrastructure-wise and not consumer wise use. Meaning the infrastructure is yet, just not the 5G signal itself. Secondly, 5G capable devices are still way above what a common consumer in the country can afford.
While speaking on the news, Airtel Kenya Managing Director Prasanta said the 600 sites were 5G ready and will not be required to make anymore adjustments to rollout the network. The Director further added, all the company will have to do is switch-on the network.
As per current statistics, Airtel Kenya accounts for nearly 26.5 percent of all mobile data users in the country. The current pandemic has forced data demand upwards, partly due to the need to access internet from home for work and to access various resources such as learning, shopping and so forth.
Once the mobile provider switches on 5G, Kenyans will access internet at three times faster internet speeds than what 4G can currently offer. As of now, 5G phones in the country are limited and costly. Airtel aims to rollout 5G in the next 1 to 2 years when 5G capable devices are a bit cheaper according to the Managing Director.