Safaricom 5G trials in Kenya

Anybody know what band(s) Safaricom is using for 5G?
The answer on Twitter left me more confused.

Safaricom Care on Twitter: “@ob1tomi Hello Tommy, it’s 450MHz-6GHz.^JU” / Twitter

Get a device that supports n1 and n78. Safaricom might be hiding what it has, but its parents (Vodacom and Vodafone) have n1 and n78. The latter is the most popular 5G band globally, Safaricom likes comfort, it wouldn’t attempt to deviate from the norm.

4 Likes

the 5G trials have been going on for some time now and perhaps there are users on the forum using it. are we now able to confirm what bands Safaricom is using for their service ? i’m looking into getting a 5G phone and would not want to get one which is not able to access the local service.

Kev™ on Twitter: “Tomorrow we’ll be deploying the very first 5G Safaricom site based on Huawei in Kenya​:raised_hands:” Twitter

You were so right on this.

2 Likes

Long post alert…
Safaricom launched 5G many moons ago, however, information has been scarce. I decided to go experiment with it. So this is how it went.
Last Saturday, went to Avechi looking for a 5G budget phone, i had Redmi Note 9T in mind but unfortunately, it wasn’t in stock so i bought Redmi Note 10 5G. Avechi sold it as 23,500/=. Xiaomi Kenya selling it at 25,499/=. It’s the 6GB, 128GB variant. I went out of town on Sunday, carried it with me but surprisingly, no 5G signal along, Thika Road, Ngong Roads, CBD.
Fun fact, Safaricom offers LTE carrier aggregation on three bands. 1800Mhz, 2100Mhz and 800Mhz. I observed this in Garsen(yes, Garsen). I didn’t bother with a speed test.

I checked nperf.com and noticed a 5G spot along Waiyaki Way. It’s when i decided to go check it out. Boarded a matatu that uses Waiyaki Way. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the 5G signal is receivable at the Safaricom Headquarter (Twin Towers) next to ABSA.
Since the matatu was moving, first order of business was to know which band they were using. It seems the are having carrier aggregation 5g+4G. Netmonster struggled to display the band(or it could be me who didn’t know how to read the 5G signal information on Netmonster).
The picture below was the first reading i got.


I checked the ARFCN code online and it show it’s the n78 band.
The reading didn’t give me all the information i needed so decided to walk back from Westlands to ABC after getting off the matatu to monitor the signal. The signal is weak and available at some spots.
During the walk back, did some speed tests. The highest i got was about 280 Mbps but didn’t get a screenshot.
Speed test is data hungry especially for 5G, i had 1.5Gb before the tests, i was left with none after conducting about 3 to 4 speed tests.
I’m no expert but it seems Safaricom is having a carrier aggregation of 5G and 4G.
The photos below summarise my 5G hunting exercise.


I added a few purple marks( 5G coverage) along Waiyaki Way on nperf.com .

My experience, 5G and bundles not a good combination. My handset is entry level 5G gadget so the speeds could have been affected by its build quality or my bundles.

12 Likes

Well, they launched it in hurry just to be the first ones

2 Likes

How does the non standalone(NSA) vs standalone work? Maybe its NSA

Well,I think very few of us care about 5G anymore considering 4G LTE is serving us well enough.

great work, Thank you. this info will make my choice clear.

Well, some few updates.
I’ve been passively hunting Safaricom 5G for the past month. As at 20th September 2021, i have roamed around Garissa, Garsen, Hola, Thika, Thika Road, Ngong Road, Nairobi CBD, Industrial Area, Southern bypass from Langata to Kikuyu. Nakuru, Eldoret, Kitale, Kapenguria, Lodwar , Bomet, Narok where i haven’t picked any 5G signal.
I have seen Tweets of folks receiving Safaricom 5G in Kilifi and Amboseli.

Back to my story, on Friday, i passed through Kisii and was almost giving up then picked the signal around Posta and ABSA area. Below are the photos and some screenshots.
I had nperf app ready for mapping and Netmonster for logging cells.

Standby screen.

A Google search of band code ARFCN 635328 from Netmonster confirms the frequency if 3.5Ghz.


Here is the conversion.

So Safaricom is using the 3.5Ghz frequency as stated in one of the Tweets quoted above.

As stated in my previous post, Safaricom is implementing a Non stand alone 5G which means you can’t receive 5G without 4G. Netmonster indicates that carrier aggregation is 10Mhz+20mhz+20Mhz. for 5G.

In the screenshot, Safaricom is using 3 bands of which two are 4G and one is 5G! Check the 3CC icon/symbol on top left of the screen shot.
Note that for 4G+, the carrier aggregation bandwidth is 10Mhz+20Mhz.
I did some speed test as indicated below. Gulps around 300Mb of data per test.




Highlighted below are the speeds compared to Waiyaki Way test.

Finally, as the signal waned, Netmonster had an interesting take.


Nperf couldn’t log the 5G signal, somehow it mapped it as 4G+ hence Kisii doesn’t appear on the nPerf 5G coverage map.

In other news. I’ve noticed Airtel has deployed 4G on Band 1(2100Mhz) , Band 20 (800Mhz) and Band 3(1800Mhz). Airtel 4G coverage in Kenya is improving rapidly.

6 Likes

All these areas within 1 Month!?

3 Likes

Any 5G coverage in Nakuru!

Yes. I moved around for other engagements so i took advantage to hunt signals.

Been there on 4 different days, not picked any 5G signals.

Have you tried Ookla 5G Map - Tracking 5G Network Rollouts Around the World

It has limited data, did some 5G speed tests and hope they update it.

I also picked 5G signals outside Two Rivers Mall.

1 Like

Have you tried Mombasa?

I’ve not but i might visit next month. Check the Tweet below.
I am on Twitter: “5G on the ocean. Gaddamit” / Twitter

I like the way people are running all over the place hunting 5G like it was bigfoot. What makes it so funny to see is knowing that when it is finally launched Safaricom will charge an arm and a leg for it. I saw someone saying that they’ll have to do away with FUP on 5G. The writing is on the wall. Safaricom has FUP on Fiber connections. How, then, do you expect truly unlimited data on a wireless connection?

7 Likes