Nokia is powering East Africa’s first 5G commercial services with Safaricom, the leading telecoms operator in the country. Nokia’s 5G Single Radio Access Network (SRAN) technology and 5G FastMile gateways enable ultra-fast Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) services to Safaricom’s subscribers across Kisumu and the Western Province of Kenya.
Vodacom pioneered 5G commercial services on the continent last year in South Africa. MTN which has also joined the 5G fray in that country plans to lead the 5G launch in Nigeria, Africa largest market for mobile phone services.
5G technology will enable new applications in areas such as virtual reality, augmented reality and artificial intelligence for Safaricom subscribers. It will also benefit enterprises across important energy, healthcare, education, transport and entertainment applications.
At a launch event in Nairobi, Safaricom showcased the capabilities of the 5G network with three use cases — 5G hologram, Ultra-HD video communication and virtual fashion shopping. In the hologram showcase, the live 5G network was used to teleport Safaricom’s executives from Safaricom office in Kisumu to the launch event in Nairobi. And in the second showcase, Ultra-HD video communication was made using the 5G Fixed Wireless Access connectivity powered by WiFi-6 with Nokia Beacon 6. The third showcase of virtual shopping will change shopping experience allowing users to try on clothes “virtually”.
“We are proud to be the first operator in the East Africa to launch 5G services, bringing the benefits of 5G technology to our customers. 5G capabilities will change a lot of things in unimaginable ways for people and enterprises, playing a key role towards fulfilling our vision to transform lives. Our long-term partner Nokia’s technologies and services expertise helped us achieve this milestone in our journey to provide world-class broadband services to our customers, said Peter Ndegwa, CEO of Safaricom.”
Nokia has leveraged its AirScale SRAN platform to enable ultra-low latency, huge connectivity and extreme capacity to support the demands of today and tomorrow. The 5G network utilizes massive Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) radio to improve spectral efficiency and throughput capacity, maximizing the return on Safaricom’s RAN investment. In addition, Nokia’s FastMile 5G gateway provides fiber like speeds for fixed wireless services to subscribers. Also, the company’s network planning, deployment and integration services ensured timely rollout of the network.
As part of the network, Nokia 5G Cloud Mobility Manager delivers the scalability, flexibility, high availability and performance needed to support the growth of mobile and enterprise services. Nokia’s NetAct network management system helps Safaricom have consolidated network view for improved network monitoring and management.
“With over 200 commercial 5G agreements with leading customers across the globe, Nokia has been bringing 5G network to every part of the world. Our 5G network for Safaricom is a key part of this journey and we are committed to working with the operator to transform the communications landscape in the country. This will open new business opportunities for Safaricom, said Amr K. El Leithy, SVP, Middle East and Africa Market, Nokia.”