Safaricom on Thursday launched 4G LTE in Kenya for the consumer. This comes after some many months of testing in several 4G sites in Nairobi, but this wasn’t available to the consumer. This has been ongoing ever since Bob Collymore came to Safaricom. Today the mobile communications company announces the launch of 4G LTE-A to customers in Nairobi and Mombasa. This makes the first of a phased roll-out that will see other new roll-outs in 2015.
The places that already have 4G in Kenya include Gigiri, Runda, Buruburu, Lower Kabete, Parkands in Nairobi and Mombasa Island and Changamwe in Mombasa. Safaricom has sights set on March 2015 for complete coverage of Nairobi and Mombasa, by March 2016 there will be coverage of 15 counties and in 36 months the company will have covered all counties.
Safaricom now launches 4G on availability of the 800MHz spectrum that Safaricom acquired for 75 million USD and aligned to the closing of the contract to provide the Kenyan government with security surveillance contract. Safaricom also spent 82 million USD to acquire 450 sites and other network infrastructure from Essar.
Safaricom claims that even as this is not the first launch of 4G LTE in Africa, it’s the best. “This is the best 4G in the whole continent of Africa and at 100MBps is the fastest in Africa,” said Bob Collymore, Safaricom CEO. Bob added that 4G LTE will not only make an impact to consumers on their phones but also in banking, education and telemedicine which will become more accessible to both enterprises and their consumers. Safaricom was the first mobile network to launch 3G in Kenya in 2008, faster HSPA connections in 2012 and now is the first in the African continent to launch 4G LTE-A
Safaricom currently has over 100,000 LTE ready smartphones and Safaricom has a plan to bring the costs down for devices to as low as Kshs 9,000. What users need to have to use 4G on their phones is a 4G ready smarphone and a new SIM card that accepts 4G. The current SIM cards in use are not compatible to 4G but the new 4G SIM cards are backwards compatible.