Safaricom, Kenya’s largest mobile operator by subscribers, has introduced LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) in Nairobi and Mombasa, with coverage of other major towns set to follow in the coming months. ‘Today’s launch progresses our strategic push to democratise data,’ commented Bob Collymore, Safaricom’s CEO, adding: ‘We believe in the transformative power of the internet and are keen to deliver the most advanced technologies to our subscribers in order to remain the network of choice … With 4G, we can deliver revolutionary services like telemedicine, virtualisation or real-time video that have immediate and transformational impact on our society.’ The LTE-A network will offer peak download speeds of up to 100Mbps, Safaricom said, adding that a number of 4G-enabled smartphones and modems are already available, including Apple’s iPhone 6 and the Huawei P7, which comes with a free 4GB data bundle. Early next year the cellco, which is 40%-owned by the UK’s Vodafone Group, plans to offer a more affordable range of devices, including a phone priced at less than KES9,000 (USD98).
Last month Safaricom signed a KES14.9 billion deal with the government to construct a national security and surveillance system, and was offered the chance to buy 4G radio spectrum as part of the agreement. Reuters cites Collymore as saying that the company paid USD75 million for the spectrum and would roll out 4G services countrywide within 36 months.