Safaricom , Kenya’s largest mobile service provider has launched the country’s first ever telecommunications lab for fast tracking the deployment of new technology and solutions.
Located at the firm’s headquarters in Nairobi, the lab replicates Safaricom’s entire networking – billing platform and application servers such as M-PESA, 4G networks, Safaricom’s cloud, microwave, etc in a single room. The Telecomm firm has collaborated with a number of industry players including Cisco, Huawei, Nokia and others who have donated equipment and expertise to the lab, which is located at the firm’s headquarters in Nairobi.
Safaricom’s more than 27 million customers will benefit from this investment, which will see fast tracking of deployment of new technology and solutions. Previously, the inherent risk of testing and deploying upgrades on live networks has impacted the pace at which such improvements can be rolled out.
At the moment, a 1 Gigabit per Second (Gbps) LTE-Advanced 4G technology which allows aggregation of up to a maximum of five 4G carriers is being tested in the lab, as well as a mobile network that runs on the cloud and Internet of Things (IoT).
The lab will also serve as a training environment for new engineers and those working on new technologies, and as a testing ground for new ideas that can be developed into new telecommunication solutions. The lab is still in its first phase of development that cost Sh. 200 million.
More elements of Safaricom’s network will be added to the lab as more work is carried out in subsequent phases of its development. At this point, telecommunication engineering students from various universities across the country will be welcomed for training in the lab.