Smile - African telco expects to invest nearly $100M this year


African telecommunications operator Smile Communications expects to launch commercial LTE services in the Democratic Republic of Congo in January, the company’s COO Tom Allen told RCR Wireless News.

Allen said the LTE network will be initially available in Kinshasa and Lubumbashi. Smile Communications also expects to launch LTE in six additional cities in a second deployment phase.

“The DRC is not well served by the current mobile operators and we will launch there as a full mobile network operator. We anticipate a very good acceptance of the Smile services,” Allen added. Current operators in the Democratic Republic of Congo are Vodacom, Africell, Airtel, Tigo and Orange.

Smile Communications has its headquarters in South Africa and currently provides LTE services in Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda using spectrum in the 800 MHz band.

Allen said that Nigeria is currently the largest market for Smile Communications in terms of growth and revenue contribution. This African country currently represents approximately 70% of the operator’s overall revenue.

The telco is also working to launch voice services in the markets it operates. “We expect to launch voice services in the fourth quarter,” Allen said.

Smile Communications expects total capital expenditures this year to reach approximately $100 million. “All the countries are getting investments as Nigeria, Uganda and Tanzania are doubling their network coverage this year. DRC will be a new network,” Allen said.

Smile launched LTE services in Tanzania in March 2012, with the network currently covering Dar es Salaam, Arusha, Dodoma and Mwanza. In Uganda, where the telco launched LTE in 2013, the service is available in Kampala and Mukono, among others, while in Nigeria, the service is commercially available in Lagos, Abuja, Ibadan and Port Harcourt.
Source: RCR Wireless 20 August 2015