Kenya’s leading mobile service carrier Safaricom is set to launch the first telecommunications lab in the country. The lab will be geared towards fast tracking rapid deployment of new technologies and solutions into the network.
The lab replicates the entire Safaricom network; its billing platform, servers for M-Pesa, 4G Networks, Cloud et al., all in one room. As it works out, the lab will be the testing ground for new technology and solutions, which if successful will be deployed to the rest of the Safaricom network. This move will minimize the risks and costs involved in rolling out new technologies and solutions into the main network, in their ‘unconfirmed’ forms.
Currently, the lab is being fitted with a 1 Gigabit per Second (Gbps) LTE-Advanced 4G network, one that will allow aggregation of up to a maximum of five 4G carriers being tested. The same infrastructure will be used for testing mobile networks running cloud and Internet of Things (IoT) services. Safaricom also plans to train new engineers in the lab.
Thibaud Rerolle, the Director-Technology at Safaricom said, “In the last five years, Safaricom has put in place various measures to attract, retain, and develop world-class local talent in the telecommunications sector. The launch of this research and development lab, the first in the region is a step towards shifting the country from simply being an importer of telecommunication solutions to one that also creates such solutions.”
The lab is still work in progress; with Safaricom currently working on phase one of its development. Phase one alone is estimated to cost the telecom Ksh. 200 million, and it had partnered with companies such as Huawei, Nokia, and Cisco in its construction.