Home5G & BeyondHuawei to use Kenya’s security agency spectrum to build 5G for Safaricom 

    Huawei to use Kenya’s security agency spectrum to build 5G for Safaricom 


    Fixed wireless access (FWA) barrier to come down too

    African daily The Nation reports that Kenyan mobile network operator Safaricom has been allocated ‘prime spectrum for its fifth-generation (5G)’ with its award of 60 megahertz (MHz) in the 2600MHz band from the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA). “The 2600MHz band was previously used by the security agencies in Kenya but they released it following change in the technology that they use,” a senior source at CA told The Nation. The price paid for the spectrum was not disclosed. The Nation’s source said it would ‘far exceed’ the €24 million (Sh2.89billion) licence fee it paid for its 4G internet spectrum five years ago. Was that a veiled reference to security exposures caused by the rush to expand?

    Big Gee up

    Safaricom’s 5G network was built by Huawei which usually prefers the 2600MHz band in other markets, like Thailand, because it allows operators to install cell towers for heavy data traffic nationwide. Kenya’s apex telcos, Airtel and Safaricom have already conducted extensive trials on 5G from hundreds of sites spread across the country. Airtel Kenya has over 600 sites in Nairobi, Mombasa and Malindi in its pilot 5G network as it prepares to compete for a larger share of the fast-growing data business. Safaricom has piloted 5G networks in several counties including Nairobi, Kisumu and Kisii and wants to expand the high-speed internet to more urban areas.

    Conversion not FWA

    Kenyan regulator CA has stepped up preparations for the 5G rollout and disclosed that some of Kenya’s fixed wireless access (FWA) network infrastructure, which operators use to deliver ultra-high-speed broadband to suburban and rural areas where fibre is prohibitively expensive to lay and maintain, will be converted to support 5G technology by the end of June.

    Telcos frustrated

    “The authority issues frequency assignments to network facilities providers to deploy network infrastructure and provide connectivity to consumers typically within the 1.7, 3.3, and 3.5 GHz (gigahertz) bands. The 3.5 GHz band, within which most FWA deployments have been activated in Kenya, will be re-farmed from fixed wireless access to mobile wireless access for 5G technology by June 30, 2022,” the regulator said in an update on frequency allocation in March.

    Smartphones too expensive

    However, to the frustration of the telcos, the date of the formal rollout of the 5G network is unclear despite pressure from them. At the end of April, the regulator rejected a request by Safaricom to expedite the rollout of the 5G network. Insiders said authorities are particularly concerned that a rushed shift to 5G would be risky, since it would most alienate consumers, whose devices don’t support the technology. The prices of 5G-ready smartphones are still prohibitive in Kenya as are the 5G-compliant wi-fi routers.