Kenya: Safaricom speeds up 4G network rollout
4 November 2016
Safaricom is betting on widening the spread of its LTE technology to drive its data services into seven more towns.
The move will leverage on 500 new 4G base stations to raise the total to 4,600 by the end of the year as data takes centre stage in the firm’s strategic positioning.
With the new development, customers in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru, Eldoret, Meru and Kisii will now have full 4G capacity. The number of counties covered by the service has increased to 30.
“Customers will be required to replace their old Sim cards to experience 4G services,” said Internet propositions manager Julius Kundu.
To drive mobile data uptake, he said, Safaricom has implemented a 36 per cent reduction in data pricing even as it continues its investment in building an advanced 2G, 3G and 4G capacities—having spent 32.13 billion upgrading the system. This included fibre-optic rollout and upgrade of its information systems.
Safaricom grew its data revenue by 59 per cent to Sh14.8 billion in 2015 with 12 million 3G mobile data users. In May 2016, the telco announced a 77 per cent increase in mobile data usage per customer as smartphone mobile ownership more than doubled.
Mobile data raised Sh6.62 billion in revenue in 2013 from Sh7.13 million users who later increased to 9.56 million in 2014 to raise revenues to Sh9.31 billion.
In addition to voice and all other 3G mobile services, the 4G system provides five times faster Internet speed on phones. It also provides faster broadband Internet access to computers and laptops linked to wireless Internet speeds—games and movies like Netflix, IP telephony, crystal clear mobile TV, video streaming and conferencing, 3D television and cloud computing.
Safaricom is also in the market with lower smartphone prices, which has been successful in driving a digital revolution in most parts of Africa, enabling more users to access the Internet at unprecedented levels.
The number of smartphone connections across the continent almost doubled in the last two years, reaching 230 million, and selling prices dropped from an average of $230 (Sh23,000) in 2012 to $160 (Sh16,000) in 2015, according to a report published by GSMA.
“Safaricom is offering smartphones starting from Sh5,999 to enable more customers to experience 4G experience and it comes with free 4GB data bundles which will expire after two days,” said Kundu.