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5G Uptake On The Rise As Communications Authority Avails More Highspeed Spectrum To Operators

The number of mobile data subscribers in Kenya who subscribed to the super-fast fifth-generation (5G) network increased 13.3 percent in the three months to September 2023 to 509,737, the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) data shows.

This is after it rose by 59,943 from the 449,794 recorded by CA as of June 2023. This points to an enhanced consumer appetite for high Internet speeds in the wake of rapidly evolving technological advancements.

CA data shows that during the quarter under review, second-generation (2G) subscriptions declined 8.1 per cent to stand at 14.7 million, down from the 16 million recorded in June 2023, while 3G dipped marginally to 10.2 million, down from the 10.3 million as of June 2023.

“2G subscriptions declined as more customers migrated to faster internet speeds offered by 4G and 5G technologies,” said the communications sector regulator in its sector statistics report for the three-month period to September 2023. 4G network remained the most widely used network after it rose by 6.2 per cent to hit 23.9 million users, up from 22.5 million as of June 2023.

However, the overall number of mobile data subscriptions declined by up to 100,000 to 49.3 million users, down from 49.4 million as of the close of June 2023. This represented a marginal 0.2 per cent drop.

The majority of customers subscribed to data/Internet speeds between 2 Mbps and 10 Mbps. The total international Internet bandwidth capacity in the country grew by 5.0 per cent to 17,353.722 Gbps from 16,523.303 Gbps reported in the preceding quarter. Further, utilisation of undersea bandwidth rose by 13.3 to record 10,964.87 Gbps, out of which 8,011.046 Gbps was used in the country and 2,953.820 Gbps sold outside the country.

The increase in the use of broadband Internet comes on the backdrop of smartphones having overtaken feature phones for the first time in the Kenyan market, entrenching a trend where more Kenyans continue to embrace the modem gadgets, even as they increasingly abandon the older generation devices.

The number of smartphones in the country reached 32.6 million in September 2023 after Kenyans acquired 2.9 million more devices in just nine months, surpassing that of the feature phones, the latest Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) statistics show.

The report also shows that Kenyans abandoned the use of close to 1.6 million feature phones in the first nine months of 2023, ending the lengthy dominance of the old-generation gadgets that ruled the country’s telecommunications industry for decades.

The continued rollout of 3G, 4G, and 5G mobile transmitters has enhanced the quality of mobile broadband across the country. The Authority also issued additional spectrum to support the rollout of a variety of services, including 5G mobile services, which provide enhanced user experience with higher speeds and quality and supports new industry applications across various sectors of the economy.

The Authority has continued to support the digital transformation as outlined in the Bottom-up Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA), and the facilitation of the roll-out of 5G and beyond underscores the industry’s relentless innovation and its lasting impact.

Telecommunications services are at the core of the digital economy due to their capacity to facilitate e-commerce, e-government and social networking amongst others. In line with this, the Authority, in its effort to support the BETA facilitates the uptake of telephony, mobile money and internet services in the country.

Kenya’s ICT sector continues to exhibit an upward trajectory in the adoption of mobile services, propelled by advancements in mobile connectivity and the availability of infrastructure. Consequently, this has led to faster and more reliable connections. We anticipate the continuation of these trends, with increased communication and data usage as we enter the first quarter of the year 2024.

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