Kenya is set to welcome its first telecommunications lab following Safaricom’s $2 million investment in a research and development lab replicating the telco’s entire networking including its billing platform; cloud; 2G; 3G; 4G; and application servers such as M-Pesa in a single room.
The Technology Lab will be a training environment for new engineers and those working on new technologies as well as a testing ground for new ideas that can be developed into new telecommunication solutions and fast-tracking their deployment.
It will reduce the previous inherent risk and the time it took to roll out such improvements on the live network by half.
“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 Thibaud Rerolle, Director of Technology at Safaricom.
A 1 Gigabit per Second (Gbps) LTE-Advanced 4G technology that 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 are some of the technologies currently undergoing testing at the lab ahead of live network deployment.
Safaricom’s partners are also using the lab as a global test centre for new solutions before sale and deployment to mobile operators worldwide.
Industry players including Cisco, Huawei and Nokia have donated equipment and expertise to the lab which is located at Safaricom headquarters in Westlands, Nairobi.
The company foresees the opening of the lab for the training of telecommunications engineering students from various universities across Kenya in the future.