Telkom Kenya launches mobile services today, having signed a national GSM roaming agreement with the country’s largest cellular operator, Safaricom. Telkom’s 51% owner France Telecom (FT) is also taking the opportunity to rename its subsidiary, with the Telkom Kenya brand ousted in favour of Orange Kenya. The launch of cellular services means Orange becomes Kenya’s first fully integrated fixed line, mobile and internet provider. FT says it is expecting Orange Kenya to have 1.5 million wireline and wireless customers by this time next year, up from 500,000 currently. The roaming agreement with Safaricom enables Orange to offer a nationwide service while it builds out its own infrastructure. Safaricom’s CEO Michael Joseph has welcomed Orange to the market, telling Kenya Broadcasting Corporation: ‘The entry of Telkom Kenya as a mobile service provider will lead to increased competition in the sub-sector, which would no doubt benefit the consuming public as existing operators such as Safaricom strive to improve their service offerings.’
Meanwhile, a plan by another mobile licensee, Econet Wireless Kenya, to launch a 3G network has been approved by the country’s Communication Commission (CCK). The regulator has allocated Econet 3G spectrum which will allow it to offer UMTS mobile data services alongside GSM. Econet plans to deploy a 3G network in Nairobi and the surrounding area.