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Telkom says Kenya not ready for 4G

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 23 – Telkom Kenya now says the country is not ready to roll out 4G technology which guarantees faster Internet speeds and downloads.

Telkom Kenya Chief Executive Officer Mickael Ghossein said on Thursday that the country cannot deploy the network just yet, as it lacks the required equipment and spectrum to support it.

“We do not have the frequencies available. We should get 2.5 Gigahertz but I’m not sure that is available. Secondly, we don’t have any equipment in the market. I think it’s too early to talk about 4G in the country,” he stated.

His remarks contradict those of Safaricom boss Michael Joseph, who has been quoted in the past saying that Africa is ready for such infrastructure and that his firm is already carrying out tests to determine the technology’s viability.

Safaricom has maintained that there’s demand for 4G and has been working on how to bring down the cost of getting a 3G enabled phone.

Mr Ghossein however argued that the government has not worked out whether it will charge for the spectrum.

Such a structure, he added, would enable the country to avoid the confusion that followed the licensing of the 3G technology which saw the government receive Sh1.9 billion ($25 million) from Safaricom but later reviewed the fee to $10 million for other players, a move that brewed controversy in the industry.

“We should take care so that we don’t have to repeat the problem with 3G. We should put (in place) a process to get 4G,” Mr Ghossein maintained.

With the slashing of the 3G spectrum fee, Telkom Kenya plans to set up the technology by December this year but still maintained that its EDGE services still offers fast speeds to customers.

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“EDGE is enough because for example if you look at the DStv that is on Safaricom’s 3G and you have it in ‘Orange’ EDGE, it’s working very well,” the CEO said adding that the company was still intent on being competitive as it seeks to cut out its image as an integrated telecommunications provider.

After the fierce battle in the calling rates, Telkom Kenya announced new offers on Internet prices which should enable it to grow its data segment.

“If you were spending Sh150 to buy an internet bundle of 50 Megabytes, you will now be able to get 100MB for the same amount and for Sh850, you will get 1000MB instead of the 500MB that you got previously,” Mr Ghossein said of the new package which he said would help its customers to access data services cost effectively.

The new promotion, which runs for the next one month, was informed by the company’s research that pointed to an increase in demand especially among students and young professionals.

These people, he said, use phones and computers to access their email and get onto social networking sites thus the need to reduce the cost of accessing these services.


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