The technology is the most advanced version of the 4G system for mobile networks and promises to pass on significant improvements in data speeds and latency to its customers while maintaining superior voice quality.
Safaricom Chief Executive Officer Bob Collymore says the company will initially roll out the 4G service in Nairobi and Mombasa, before scaling up coverage to other major towns in the coming months.
Collymore says the LTE Advanced network will offer peak speeds of up to 100 Megabytes per second (Mbps), which is more than twice the speed offered on 3G technology making it possible for customers to download and upload files faster, as well as enjoy buffer-free streaming of audio and video.
“The direct impact of data on our economy has already been noted through the increasing number of businesses and services offered online. With 4G, we can deliver revolutionary services like tele-medicine, virtualization or real-time video that have immediate and transformational impact on our society,” said Collymore.
He said Safaricom is keen to supply affordable 4G-enabled devices including phones, routers and modems to the market, with a sub Sh9,000 phone planned for early next year.
The low cost devices will supplement the already available iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and Huawei P7 smartphones along with 4G modems that shall be available in Safaricom shops and come with a free 4GB data bundle.
“Today’s launch progresses our strategic push to democratise data. We believe in the transformative power of the internet and are keen to deliver the most advanced technologies to our subscribers in order to remain the network of choice,” Collymore added.
The coming of 4G is expected to drive the growth of Internet users in the country.
In the third quarter of 2014 (April to June ) the number of Internet users increased by 3 percent to post 22.3 million users up from 21.6 million owing to increase in Internet subscription that grew by 5 percent to reach 14 million from 13.3 million.
“International Internet bandwidth available in the country declined by 2.1 percent to 847,464 Mbps down from 865,714 Mega bytes per second (Mbps) recorded in the last quarter. This decline could be attributed to the reported decrease in capacity by Sea Submarine Communications Limited (SEACOM),” the Quarterly Sector Statistics Report for the period April to June 2014 states.
Access to Internet through the mobile phones and tablets maintained an upward trend within the quarter under review recording 5.1 percent growth to stand at 13.9 million subscriptions. Furthermore, mobile data/Internet subscriptions accounted for 99 percent of the total subscriptions.