Zachary Ochuodho @zachuodho
Safaricom is gearing up for the expected launch of 5G services after it yesterday unveiled an innovative network technology aimed at enhancing coverage across the country.
The mobile network operator has started trial of the new technology which is aimed at enhancing coverage in urban areas.
Dubbed TubeStar Base Station, the solution replaces the standard tower base station with a tubular structure that occupies up to 75 per cent less the land typically required. It is targeted at urban areas which present a space constraint when putting up network towers.
Speaking during the launch of the technology, Thibaud Rerolle, chief technology officer at Safaricom said placing standard towers in such locations has proved difficult.“Most landowners have future plans for currently unutilised land or have already put up structures on the entire land leaving little space for a typical base station, he added.
The first TubeStar has been deployed at Clay Works along the Nairobi-Thika Superhighway and will offer coverage along the Roysambu drift which has long been plagued by call drops.
Rerolle disclosed that the technology has options for 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G speeds. 5G is the newest mobile network that is replacing the current 4G technology by providing a number of improvements in speed, coverage, and reliability.
Currently, most parts of the country are served by the 3G network – although there are some remote parts which still use the 2G network. However, most major urban areas have been upgraded to 4G network.
Rerolle dislosed that the firm is discussing with Kenya National Highway Authority (KenNHA) to be allowed to set up the base stations along highways to help resolve challenges of land acquisition.
He said with the new facilities, Safaricom customers will now be able to provide its coverage service with at least 96 per cent precision while those looking for data service will improve up to 81 per cent.
Rerolle said the technology does not use generators or require security perimeter as was the case with the one currently being used in many sites,” adding that it has a bigger space to accommodate 5G network.