Safaricom has announced an investment of KES 200 million in developing phase one of Kenya’s first Telecommunication Lab.
The lab replicates Safaricom entire networking. This includes the billing platform, application servers such as M-PESA, Safaricom cloud, microwave, 2G, 3G and 4G networks in a single room.
It will serve as a training environment for new engineers and those working on new technologies. It will also serve as a testing ground for new ideas that can be developed into new telecommunication solutions.
New upgrades tried and tested in the lab will be deployed on the live network at less than half the time it has usually taken.
Among technologies currently undergoing testing in the lab ahead of live network deployment include a 1 Gigabit per Second (Gbps) LTE-Advanced 4G technology which allows aggregation of up to a maximum of five 4G carriers, a trial mobile network that runs on the cloud and Internet of Things (IoT) trials, including IoT-enabled smart water meters.
“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,” said Safaricoms Technology director Thibaud Rerolle
Subsequent phases of the lab will see it being opened up for the training of telecommunication engineering students from various universities across the country.
Safaricom 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. The partners are also using the lab as a global test centre for new solutions before sale and deployment to mobile operators across the world.