The recent launch of 5G in Kenya has resonated differently with many Kenyans, with whom most term it as “not a necessity now.”
Safaricom, the largest telecommunication provider in the country, has indicated that customers in 5G-ready zones can access 5G Wi-Fi by purchasing a 5G router at KES 25,000 plus a setup fee of Sh5,000.
Ignatius Aluri, 30 a resident of Utawala, Nairobi says the cost of 5G Wi-Fi will put off many Kenyans, shifting their preference to affordable Safaricom packages or alternative internet distributors.
“I don’t mind using the 5G, however, Sh30,000 for internet is expensive. It will make more financial sense if it is only used commercially,” said Mr Etyang adding that he rather saves that money and pay his three months’ rent in full.
According to Mr Aluri, the 4G network still serves him and his households. They even downgraded from Safaricom’s 20Mbps to 8Mbps when they stopped working from home mid-this year.
“We don’t feel the difference since only a few devices are using the internet, unlike the year 2020 to 2021 when we had about 6 laptops operating in addition to our mobile phones and other devices using Wi-Fi,” he added.
Jecinta Jepkoech, 26, from Nairobi, is not even considering the 5G home internet. Already, she has shifted to alternative Wi-Fi distributors where she only pays Sh1,500 per month.
Ms Jepkosgei cites tough financial times as the reason she is opting for affordable internet.
“I stopped using Safaricom’s 8Mbps internet because it is very expensive. I only subscribe again when my sister and I are working from home. Currently, we only need the internet for YouTube, Netflix and social media. The alternative Wi-Fi is serving the purpose,” she added.
After the recent launch of the 5G network by Safaricom on October 27, 2022, there are still other factors hindering most Kenyans from experiencing what the latest network technology can offer.
For instance; the smartphones compatible with the 5G are also few, these include 5G-enabled devices from the Samsung Galaxy S and Fold series, Huawei and Oppo 5G devices.
Customers with Apple’s iPhones and select 5G-capable Samsung devices will require a software update from the manufacturer to access the superfast network.
These phones cost about $1000, whereas according to research by Jumia in 2019 the average amount spent by Kenyans on smartphones was $185 in 2014 but has dramatically come down to $86 since the Chinese competitors entered the market.
According to the Safaricom website, the Safaricom fiber package is cheaper than the 5G Wi-Fi package, but the 5G has an increased speed.
For instance, the 8Mbps (Bronze package) which caters to fast web browsing, SD Movie and music streaming, internet surfing, social media and email only monthly (30 days) subscription costs Sh2,999.
The Silver package or 20Mbps ensures customers get fast web browsing and video call services, HD TV shows and movies up to 3 connected devices, internet surfing, social media and email, moderate streaming, superfast video downloads and CCTV devices Capability cost Sh4,100 monthly.
The 40Mbps or Gold package entails “Fast web browsing, 4K Movies & TV Shows, online gaming and downloading, multiple device music streaming, superfast video downloads, CCTV devices capability for Sh6,299 monthly.”
Whereas the 100Mbps, Diamond package offers fast web browsing, 4K Movie & TV shows, heavy online gaming and downloading, multiple device streaming, superfast video downloads and music streaming CCTV devices Capability and costs Sh12,499 monthly.
The introductory price for 5G as indicated by the site is Sh3,499 valid for 30 days (Inc. Tax) for 10Mbps which entails 300GB Volume, throttle speed (1MBPs) and throttle Volume (300GB).
The 40Mbps package detailed with 500GB Volume, throttle speed (3MBPs) and throttle Volume (1000GB) costs Sh5,999 and the 100Mbs package with 1000GB volume, throttle speed (3Mbps) and throttle Volume (1000GB) cost Sh 14,999.
Currently, Safaricom has 35 active 5G network sites spread across Nairobi, Kisumu, Kisii, Kakamega and Mombasa, and it plans to expand to 200 sites across the country by March 2023.
According to a 5G Survey: The Path to 5G monetization published on the Nokia website, Unlocking 5G revenues will depend on a major shift toward adaptable monetization systems and, “5G enterprise revenue growth areas are currently, in order, connectivity services, enterprise IoT, slicing services and media and entertainment.”