Safaricom is investing up to Ksh. 200 million and working with Cisco, Huawei, Nokia and others to set up a telecommunications lab which will replicate its entire platform including the billing platform, application servers such as M-PESA, Safaricom’s cloud, microwave, 2G, 3G and 4G networks in a single room at the firm’s headquarters in Nairobi.
This comes just a day after a Niger national claimed he was behind the recent hack that saw Safaricom’s more than 27 million customers offline for hours. This lab will also help the firm conveniently deploy new technology and solutions which previously impacted operations.
According to Thibaud Rerolle, Director- Technology, Safaricom,“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.”
In addition, the lab will serve as a training environment for new engineers and those working on new technologies, and also as a testing ground for new ideas that can be developed into new telecommunication solutions.
The Technology Lab will, however, allow vigorous and expedited testing of such upgrades meaning that they can 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.
Safaricom’s partners are also using the lab as a global test centre for new solutions before sale and deployment to mobile operators across the world.
Subsequent phases of the lab will add more elements of Safaricom’s network in the lab and will also see it being opened up for the training of telecommunication engineering students from various universities across the country.