Senegal’s Regulation Authority for Telecommunications and Posts (L’Autorite de Regulation des Telecommunications et des Postes, ARTP) is preparing to authorise commercial 5G services, Abdou Karim Sall, Director General of the regulatory body, has revealed in an interview with local news agency APS. He stated the ARTP will begin talks with the country’s mobile network operators (MNOs) ‘in the coming days’ regarding the extension of their existing 4G operating licences to include 5G networks and services, adding that a 5G launch had become ‘inevitable’ following the completion of network testing by Sonatel (Orange Senegal) and Free Senegal last month.

Mr Sall told reporters that in late March he instructed Sonatel and Free to halt their network trials and submit a progress report to the regulator, informing them there would be no extension to the test phase. Meetings with the two cellcos had ‘demonstrated their commitment and desire to offer 5G’, a technology which can no longer be considered a ‘luxury’, he added.

Sonatel conducted its second 5G test in December 2021, achieving data transfer rates of up to 2Gbps in partnership with Nokia, while Free launched a pilot network in Dakar in June last year with technical support from Ericsson. In addition, in July 2022 Sonatel opened the Orange 5G Lab Dakar, the group’s first such facility on the African continent for the testing and development of fifth-generation products and services.

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