Nokia and Safaricom deploy FWA 5G slicing trial in Africa

Finnish kit vendor Nokia and regional operator Safaricom have collaborated on what they are calling Africa’s first Fixed Wireless Access 5G slicing trial.

The trial, which took place in Kenya’s Western Region, used a multi-vendor network environment encompassing RAN, transport and core, and it is claimed this represents the first time 4G/5G network slicing has been successfully achieved in Africa. Nokia kit deployed to run the pilot included AirScale 4G/5G base stations, the NetAct network management and assurance system and the FastMile 4G/5G CPE.

We’re told that the network supports LTE, 5G NSA and 5G SA technologies with slice service continuity between the networks, which apparently enables slicing services for all LTE and 5G devices. The point of network slicing is that it that it can be divided into multiple segments which can then be optimized for a specific target application or service, tailored specifically to the requirements of that job.

“We are proud to have hosted Africa’s first successful pilot of 4G/5G FWA slicing on our network, and looking forward to tailoring our service offerings to individual customers and industries, to meet their needs for high-speed connectivity precisely and without unnecessary cost,” said James Maitai, Network Director at Safaricom. “Nokia’s expertise has been key to this success, and we anticipate many more strategic wins in this area as our business expands.”

Ramy Hashem, Head of the Safaricom Customer Team at Nokia added: “It is great to have successfully completed this pilot with Safaricom, which is a huge step forward in providing Safaricom with state-of-the-art connectivity. Early experience of new slicing technology is invaluable in understanding the new business opportunities it enables. Nokia was the first vendor to offer a slicing solution and we are looking forward to continuing our partnership with Safaricom in providing world-class 4G and 5G network slicing services to its customers.”

Rival kit vendor Ericsson has also been busy trialling cutting edge 5G infrastructure in Africa – earlier this month it buddied up with SkyMax Network to build 5G infrastructure across Sub-Saharan Africa. The network, when it’s deployed, will apparently offer a variety of 5G capabilities including network slicing, ultra-low latency, edge computing, and Network Exposure Function.


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