Smile Communications, the pan-African 4G operator that was launched in 2007 by former MTN executive Irene Charnley, has revealed that it is in the process of testing voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) technology over its operational LTE networks, and will begin trialling devices in the first quarter of 2014. In an interview with Telecoms.com, chief operating officer Tom Allen stressed that Smile is open to a range of approaches, saying: ‘We are happy with over-the-top (OTT) voice services and our customers are already using OTT solutions on our network … We could prioritise Skype traffic on our network and make sure it gets a better grade of service, which is the complete opposite to what a mobile operator would do. We are not saying we will do that, but we would look at it seriously. We will see what the market demands’.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Smile launched East Africa’s first 4G LTE network in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in August 2012. March 2013 saw the company deploy an LTE network in Ibadan, Nigeria, using 800MHz spectrum, while June 2013 saw Smile Uganda deploy LTE in Kampala, also in the 800MHz band. Going forward, Smile also intends to launch in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and the market was included in a November 2012 contract with French-US vendor Alcatel-Lucent.