There has been a lot of speculation recently on 5G and what it really means for OnePlus users in Kenya. Before we go on, let us first set the stage on a few things: What is 5G? What are the different kinds of 5G bands? Why choose some bands over others? and how readily available is 5G in Kenya and Africa in general?
5G is the 5th generation of mobile networks, a significant evolution of todays 4G LTE networks. 5G has been designed to meet the very large growth in data and connectivity of today’s modern society, the internet of things with billions of connected devices, and tomorrow’s innovations. 5G will initially operate in conjunction with existing 4G networks before evolving to fully standalone networks in subsequent releases and coverage expansions.
In addition to delivering faster connections and greater capacity, a very important advantage of 5G is the fast response time referred to as latency.
Latency is the time taken for devices to respond to each other over the wireless network. 3G networks had a typical response time of 100 milliseconds, 4G is around 30 milliseconds and 5G will be as low as
1 millisecond. This is virtually instantaneous opening up a new world of connected applications.
In terms of utility, the new 5G network is poised to change the world with unparalleled speeds. However, if we dive a little deeper, this new fifth-generation technology standard for broadband cellular networks will provide three broad categories of 5G bands – Low (sub-1GHz), Mid (1GHz-6GHz), High (mmWave).
The sub-1GHz low bands operate with a frequency range below 1GHz and potentially will have the widest coverage area. However, according to reports, the band maxes out at download speeds between 200Mbps and 300Mbps, a little above peak 4G speeds.
At the other end of the spectrum is the mmWave operating at 24.25GHz to 52.6GHz frequencies, which will deliver faster download speeds clocking multiple gigabytes. However, the range is very limited and is subject to interference from physical obstructions. There is also the fact that only a handful of telecom companies in the world have managed to offer mmWave 5G, so far at least.
Now that we have spoken about the lows and highs of 5G, with their pros and cons, there is a sweet spot in the spectrum – the mid bands. With the best of both worlds, the mid bands will have a coverage area greater than the mmWave band and faster download speeds when compared to the low bands. The mid-band will potentially clock speeds over 2Gbps, and experts have mentioned that a slow mid-band will be as fast as the fastest low band which, as we mentioned earlier, will be capped at 300Mbps. This combination makes the mid-bands the most popular amongst OEMs and operators alike, and will be the most widely adopted across the world.
In the middle of all of the mid-bands is the n78, which is being used by most European and Asian countries and spans 3.3 GHz to 3.8 GHz. Given the band’s attributes, and the fact that it uses pre-existing 4G infrastructure, the n78 is the most commonly available – most commercial 5G networks are majorly relying on the 3.3-3.8 GHz range to implement 5G.
It comes as no surprise that in 2020, The WRC-19 (World Radiocommunication Conference), held at The Hilton Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya, approved additional Spectrum for International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT)-2020 (5G mobile).
The additional spectrum allocation to mobile services in the frequency bands 24.25-27.5 GHz, 37- 43.5 GHz. 47.2 – 48.2 GHz and 66 – 71 GHz were to facilitate implementation of 5G mobile services in Kenya. The 5G trials in Kenya officially began in March 2021.
5G fixed-wireless access in South Africa was officially launched at the end of 2019, making it the first country in Africa to provide 5G network services by multiple service providers.
The Nigerian government, also, on the backbone of efforts by other African countries, is currently speeding up efforts to test and launch fixed access to 5G in a bid to not be left behind. Teleco Companies with a wide footprint across Africa are planning to use 5G to help bridge the digital divide in the continent.
While talking to the community, the most frequent question that came up recently was, will OnePlus 9 series users be able to use 5G while traveling abroad? The answer is YES.
The 5G bands on the OnePlus 9 Series in Kenya give users 5G access abroad via 5G roaming service co-provided by Kenya and local carriers, or with local 5G SIM card on supported 5G bands.
Having said that, we are also working closely with local carriers to monitor regional developments and will continue to improve our future products and services so that OnePlus users can enjoy a fast and smooth 5G experience.
And finally to clarify the question about the potential for adding additional bands through OTA updates. It is true that OnePlus will not be able to add more bands for the 9 series. Hopefully, in future, when more service providers adapt the technology with additional bands, OnePlus devices will be able to provide additional bands through OTA updates. For now, you can be sure that the 9 series are compatible with the current bands available in Kenya.