Kenya has witnessed a remarkable 13.3 percent surge in mobile data subscribers embracing the cutting-edge fifth-generation (5G) network. According to data from the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA), the figures soared to 509,737 during the three months leading up to September 2023.
This substantial increase, a jump of 59,943 from June’s count of 449,794, underscores a palpable shift in consumer preferences toward the allure of lightning-fast Internet speeds. As technological advancements continue their rapid evolution, the demand for enhanced connectivity experiences appears to be at an all-time high.
The CA’s quarterly report reveals a fascinating dynamic in the mobile data landscape. Second-generation (2G) subscriptions experienced an 8.1 percent decline, settling at 14.7 million during the review period, down from the 16 million recorded in June. Concurrently, 3G subscriptions saw a marginal dip to 10.2 million from the 10.3 million reported in June.
The decline in 2G subscriptions is indicative of a migration towards the swifter internet speeds offered by 4G and 5G technologies,” notes the communications sector regulator in its sector statistics report for the three-month period ending September.
While 4G networks retained their dominance, witnessing a 6.2 percent rise to reach 23.9 million users, up from 22.5 million in June, the overall number of mobile data subscriptions experienced a slight dip. The count decreased by 100,000, settling at 49.3 million users compared to the 49.4 million recorded in June – a modest 0.2 percent drop.
The allure of 5G, touted for its superior speed compared to 2G, 3G, and 4G, remains somewhat elusive for a significant portion of mobile users. The primary barriers include the need for more expensive smartphones compatible with 5G and equally pricey data bundles. The cost of entry is steep, with 5G-ready phones from tech giants like Apple and Samsung priced between Sh25,000 and upwards of Sh150,000.
Notably, subscribers on the 5G network find themselves facing higher Internet tariffs in comparison to their counterparts on 3G and 4G networks. This differential pricing reflects the substantial investments made by companies in upgrading the infrastructure to accommodate the advanced technology.
As Kenya rides the wave of technological evolution, the surge in 5G adoption signals a growing appetite for faster, more robust connectivity. However, the road to universal access remains paved with the challenges of affordability, making the journey towards a fully connected future an intriguing and complex one for mobile users in the country.