What is 5G?
5G is the 5th generation mobile network. It is a new global wireless standard after 1G, 2G, 3G, and 4G networks. 5G enables a new kind of network that is designed to connect virtually everyone and everything together including machines, objects, and devices.
5G wireless technology is meant to deliver higher multi-Gbps peak data speeds, ultra-low latency, more reliability, massive network capacity, increased availability, and a more uniform user experience to more users.
What are the differences between the previous generations of mobile networks and 5G?
The previous generations of mobile networks are 1G, 2G, 3G, and 4G.
First generation - 1G
1980s: 1G delivered analog voice.
Second generation - 2G
Early 1990s: 2G introduced digital voice (e.g. CDMA- Code Division Multiple Access).
Third generation - 3G
Early 2000s: 3G brought mobile data (e.g. CDMA2000).
Fourth generation - 4G LTE
2010s: 4G LTE ushered in the era of mobile broadband.
1G, 2G, 3G, and 4G all led to 5G, which is designed to provide more connectivity than was ever available before.
5G is a unified, more capable air interface. Compared to 4G, 5G has the potential to provide up to 20X faster data speeds and carry a massive amount of data for many simultaneous users. This allows users in high density areas to enjoy the fast speeds and low latency of 5G service.
Is 5G available now?
Yes, 5G is already here today for Safaricom customers in in select locations in Nairobi, Kisumu, Kisii and Kakamega.
Do I need a new phone if I want 5G?
If you already have a 5G capable device, you can connect to the network where it is available. However, some devices such as Samsung and iPhone will require the mobile manufacturers to unlock the 5G capability.
If your current device is not 5G capable, you will need to get a new smartphone that supports 5G. There are several new mobile phones available that are designed to support 5G from manufacturers such as Nokia, Huawei and Samsung.
Will a 5G phone work with other technologies anywhere?
"Backward compatible" 5G phones can function on older networks outside of 5G coverage areas. The experience will reflect the technology available at the time.
Will my current 2G, 3G or 4G phone continue to work in the network?
Yes, the currently supported devices will continue to work.
What 5G services are available today?
The first service that will be available with 5G will be the Fixed wireless access which is a product that is like wireless fiber. This will allow our home customers to get Internet services sooner without having to wait for Fiber rollout which is labor intensive and has a longer lead time.
5G Fixed wireless access internet service is ideal for consumers who would normally take up the traditional, wired broadband internet connections. Since 5G can offer comparable and sometimes superior performance.
Does 5G change my home internet service?
5G can change home internet service by providing a wireless modem alternative to existing wires. Safaricom can now serve customers using 5G infrastructure – making the coverage, performance and deployment flexibility of 5G a compelling backhaul alternative to fiber, DSL or LTE solutions.
My home wi-fi router has 5G in its name, do I already have 5G at home?
No. The 5G label on a home Wi-Fi router indicates that it operates in the 5GHz (gigahertz) spectrum band. Wi-Fi is based on a different technology than 5G or fifth-generation wireless. On a home modem or router, it stands for “5GHz” and it’s one of the two frequency bands routers can use to broadcast WIFI through your home. You might see it as an option next to 2.4 GHz.
Where is 5G being used?
Broadly speaking, 5G is used across three main types of connected services, including enhanced mobile broadband, mission-critical communications, and the massive IoT. A defining capability of 5G is that it is designed for forward compatibility—the ability to flexibly support future services that are unknown today.
- Enhanced mobile broadband
In addition to making our smartphones better, 5G mobile technology can usher in new immersive experiences such as VR and AR with faster, more uniform data rates, lower latency, and lower cost-per-bit.
- Mission-critical communications
5G can enable new services that can transform industries with ultra-reliable, available, low-latency links like remote control of critical infrastructure, vehicles, and medical procedures.
- Massive IoT
5G is meant to seamlessly connect a massive number of embedded sensors in virtually everything through the ability to scale down in data rates, power, and mobility—providing extremely lean and low-cost connectivity solutions.
How do businesses use 5G?
5G will support businesses’ innovation ambitions and create new markets, transforming supply chain management and creating smarter, more efficient manufacturing. It’s also a fundamental platform for the Internet of Things (IoT). It is expected that more than half of all new businesses will rely on the “IoT” to cut costs, build efficiencies, and grow their bottom lines.
What new services will emerge from 5G?
5G will potentially be able to handle more than 1million connected devices per square kilometer. This opens new opportunities for Smart Cities and Smart Homes. Other near-term services would include Realtime Gaming, and new opportunities in Entertainment with Virtual Reality and Augmented reality.
What’s a “Smart City” and how will 5G impact my community?
Smart cities employ use of electronic Sensors and Measurements to provide services and respond to challenges. For example, utility companies can have IoT meters to alert home owners on upcoming bills or to alert the utility company on leakages. Activity triggered sensors can alert in case of vandalism in isolated locations. Smart traffic lights can respond to traffic situation rather than work on a timer. Street lights can be controlled to respond not only to daylight hours, but also environmental situation e.g. Narrower streets can light sooner etc.
How will 5G change transportation?
There are opportunities in both traffic control and driverless cars. For the former, traffic information such as alerts on traffic jams, suggestions of alternative routes, real time traffic monitoring etc. are some of the use cases and for the latter we can’t reach the full promise of autonomous vehicles without 5G. For these cars to react to road conditions immediately, their sensors need to be able to send and receive data with low latency. 5G has the potential to cut latency down to less than 10 milliseconds, many times faster than the blink of an eye.
Will 5G Improve healthcare?
There are several opportunities in Health care as well. 5G could elevate virtual healthcare to new levels, enabling even more effective remote care for those who need it most. There is already ongoing research on capabilities such as remote surgeries by use of Robots and the 5G network.
Are 5G antennas a health concern?
All equipment used for 5G must comply with stringent safety standards. Those standards have wide safety margins and are designed to protect everyone, including children. Everyday exposure to the radio frequency energy from 5G small cells will be well within those safety limits and is comparable to exposure from products such as baby monitors, Wi-Fi routers, and Bluetooth devices.
I have heard that 5G small cells cause COVID-19. Is that true?
It is scientifically impossible for radiofrequency waves at any frequency to create a virus, including radio waves used to provide 5G.
The World Health Organization and the CDC have been clear about the origins of this virus: The WHO says, “Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people.” The CDC says coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in people and many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats.