Video content pushing adoption of 4G and 5G

IFA Global Press Conference
An illustration of data use from the IFA Global Press Conference 2019. PHOTO | COURTESY 

Comedian Ithagu Kibicho, who goes by the stage name Henry DeSagu on his video channel, received the YouTube Silver Button award for surpassing 100,000 subscribers.

In less than three years, the comedian has grown his subscriber base to about 137,000 and more than 23.5 million views of the videos uploaded on YouTube.

The creator has seen increased demand and following of his content, which he has turned into a full-time job.

“Over the past year, we have seen impressive growth in Kenya with an 80 percent increase in mobile usage. This is more people, spending more time watching YouTube videos,” said Charles Murito, Google Country Manager Kenya.

The key driver for increased video consumption locally and globally has been fuelled by the adoption of 4G network, even as the commercialisation of 5G begins.


“Demand for content is greater than ever. For 4G, video has been the key piece of content used by operators. This is followed by music and games,” said Maria Rua Aguete, executive director for technology, media and telecommunication at IHS Markit during the IFA global press conference held in Andalusia, Spain.

According to Ms Aguete, video is everywhere including social media, becoming central to messaging and social app strategies.

Data from global research firm IHS Markit shows that social media apps popular locally including Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat have integrated video calling (including group), live broadcasts, video stories, video advertising, professional and branded content, and 360 videos.

Kenyans are paying billions of shillings to access the internet, with most of the data bundles consumed on streaming music and videos, playing video games and networking with friends. Data from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) showed that last year, Kenyans spent 269 million gigabytes (GBs) of data and consumption is set to rise to 984 million GBs in 2022.

Content creation

The demand for faster internet speeds to support better video quality, live streaming and content creation has been the biggest driver for the adoption of new generation technology as well as the investment by network providers on upgraded infrastructure.

In February this year, Safaricom announced its partnership with Chinese technology giant Huawei which will provide it with the world's first end-to-end 400G backbone network. The latest technology will enable Safaricom support its growing internet needs and video streaming services for its home and mobile customers, thus giving the company more freedom with how it uses its network while supporting heavy usage by subscribers.

Telkom is upgrading its network’s capacity in 5 towns to cater for growing demand across the country.

The ongoing upgrade is part of Telkom’s Sh1 billion network expansion and optimisation programme and will see a significant boost to its quality of service in Nairobi, Kisumu, Mombasa, Nakuru and Eldoret. This network expansion will also include the IP Core expansion from 30Gigabit to 100Gigabit that will offer a better experience to Internet users.

This expansion will ensure that subscribers enjoy smoother live streaming, faster downloads and uploads, and sharing of video and audio content. Some 3G sites have been earmarked for upgrade to 4G, with the upgrade partly driven by a spike in smartphone users.

By the end of September 2018, the total number of active internet and data subscriptions in the country stood at 42.2 million, according to Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) report. The CA adds that mobile data subscriptions constitute 99.2 per cent of total data and internet subscriptions in the Kenya. This means that the majority of people can access the internet even when travelling.

Ms Aguete reckons that new generation networks particularly 5G will be driven in part by consumer video and media.

In the IHS data, the service provider 5G upgrade drivers will be enhanced mobile broadband; real-time gaming; HD and UHD video; massive Internet of Things (IoT); among others.

“Soon, we will have 5G networks, which will unleash the power of data like we could never imagine,” said Jens Heithecker, IFA-executive director.

The commercialisation of 5G, starting in 2019, will profoundly change the mobile industry and transform the global economy.

“5G commercialisation marks the arrival of a new age of invention that will forever transform the devices we depend on every day and enrich our lives in 2019 and beyond,” says Cristiano Amon, President of Qualcomm Incorporated.