, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 23 – Safaricom on Monday announced a Sh80 million upgrade to boost data speeds, further strengthening its 3G network with the launch of a new high speed internet modem
With the potential to go up to 21 megabits per second (Mbps), the new modem will provide users average speeds of between 2.5 and 3 Mbps during peak hours and maximum speeds of 17 Mbps off-peak.
Following the upgrade, internet speeds are expected to at least double. In addition to the high speeds, the modem also comes with a memory that can be expanded.
Safaricom has already been testing its data network in its Data Belt, covering Langata, Lavington, Westlands, Upperhill, South C, South B and parts of Industrial Area, for the last two weeks.
In the next three months the operator plans to further extend the data upgrade to the rest of Nairobi with another 50 sites earmarked for an identical overhaul.
Speaking during the launch, Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore said though the new service will be initially rolled out to 81 sites in Nairobi, the operator plans to eventually expand to rural areas.
“We believe with this kind of speed and our investment in our fiber partnerships we will be able to bring health, education and commercial solutions in rural districts because it makes a bigger difference to a rural customer,” he said.
Addressing the issue of pricing Mr Collymore said Safaricom has managed to provide gradual reductions overtime and offered customers options such as time-based billing.
“We have recently reduced the price. The prices came down by 40 and 60 percent. We reduced the price overtime and tried to find more flexible pricing. We are trying to offer customers choices,” he said.
As the first 3G network provider in Kenya, with the largest 3G network, Mr Collymore said, Safaricom intends to maintain its position as the market leader.
“When the government said the license would be $25 million, we paid it. We think it is abjectly unfair that the people who did not believe in 3G in those days and who did not invest in it should then get a license for $10 million. Safaricom takes a firm position in getting the shareholder’s money back,” he asserted.
Last week, the firm announced the installation of over 120 3G base stations in Western Kenya as part of an ongoing strategy to revamp its network capability in the region, adding to its existing 1500 3G base stations countrywide.