Safaricom on Friday launched the commercial trial of 5G services in Nairobi and major urban centers in western Kenya, with Huawei and Nokia as technology partners.
Safaricom said it is the first operator in east Africa to launch 5G services.
The trial will begin with both individual and enterprise customers in Nairobi, Kisumu, Kisii and Kakamega, Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa said.
The number of 5G sites will be expanded to more than 150 across nine towns over the next 12 months, the company said.
"With 5G, we aim to empower our customers with super-fast internet at work, at home and when on the move, supplementing our growing fiber network," Ndegwa told a virtual press briefing. "At Safaricom, we are proud to be the first in the country and the region to bring this latest innovation to both our retail and enterprise customers empowering them to start exploring new opportunities that 5G provides."
He said the primary objective during the trial period will be to establish if customers can enjoy speeds of up to 700Mbps, with plans to offer speeds above 1,000 Mbps in the coming months.
Safaricom subscribers who want to use the service will need new handsets that are compatible with 5G.
For mobile internet customers, the service will be available on select 5G smartphones from Huawei, Nokia and Samsung, all available at Safaricom Shops, the company said.
Ndegwa said the 5G service will be available on mobile phones beginning with the Huawei Mate 30 Pro and P40 on Friday, and from the end of April on the Nokia 8.3, Samsung Galaxy S21 series, Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 and Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G.
Joe Mucheru, cabinet secretary at the Ministry of Information and Technology, lauded the Safaricom move as a milestone reinforcing the country's position at being at the forefront of innovation in the region and the world.
"The 5G technology will usher in increased internet speeds and capabilities for millions across the country, laying a strong foundation for a new generation of innovators and entrepreneurs," Mucheru said.