Safaricom has today unveiled what they’re calling commercial 5G. This comes over a year after the company opened 5G trials across parts of the country. The solution the company is offering is fixed WiFi for the home and for businesses. This will be accessed through routers which the company will be selling.
What Safaricom is going for with 5G WiFi is similar to what they’ve been running for a while now as “4G for Home and Businesses”. The difference now is that instead of using the now-quite-limited 4G spectrum, they will be using 5G bands.
Prices for Safaricom’s 5G WiFi Packages:
|Prices in KES, monthly
For such a shift, there’s the requirement of new hardware. That’s why Safaricom will be selling you a router at KES 25,000. These routers access 5G networks and share it to your devices as WiFi. We are not yet sure what WiFi standards are supported. Hopefully WiFi 6 and WiFi 6e are supported on the routers, especially at the asking price.
If you don’t want to pay the one-off KES 25,000 fee, there’s the option for a 36-month contract where the router will be provided for free. You will need to be credit vetted for this. Safaricom hasn’t as yet made public details on how this will be done.
You will also need to pay KES 5,000 for delivery, setup and installation of the router.
Fees for Installation of Safaricom 5G WiFi:
|Cost in KES
|25,000 (or through 36-month contract)
|Delivery and Connection
|starting from 3,499
|approx KES 33,499 (if you get 10Mbps)
To get 5G WiFi, Safaricom has laid out regions where the network is already available. Currently, only the following regions are covered:
- Parts of Nairobi
- Parts of Kiambu, Ruaka, Thika
- Parts of Machakos
So if you don’t live in these areas, you can either go with Fibre if available, or 4G for Home. It will be interesting to see uptake especially since most of the regions where this is available are regions where Fibre is also already available.
What’s clear from today’s launch is this: the speeds offered aren’t what 5G promises in full. For example, back in July of this year, when my phones accessed 5G from a rooftop in Nairobi, the speeds I managed were an upward of 200Mbps.
Which makes me wonder why the 5G WiFi speeds are slow at a meagre 100Mbps as the maximum speeds. Also, the inclusion of Fair Usage feels weird. While 4G networks support up to 4,000 devices per square kilometre, 5G supports 1 million devices in the same area size.
The good thing is this: if you have 5G capable devices – say your Smartphone is 5G ready – in the above areas you’ll be able to access 5G from your phone at the maximum speeds possible in the regions. What we can hope for now is to see 5G-specific bundles like we saw when 4G went live.
Statement from CEO Safaricom:
“Plans are already underway to provide 5G bundles. These will be ready by December,” said Peter Ndegwa CEO Safaricom. “Currently, we have 200,000 5G devices on our network. We will continue to work with our partners who supply devices, and leverage device financing parters to make 5G devices more available.”
5G ready smartphones:
If you have 5G-ready devices from Samsung, Xiaomi, OPPO, TECNO, and Infinix will be ready to go with the 5G network. However, iPhone users (and select Samsung devices) will have to wait for software updates from Apple and Samsung to be able to access the network.