Safaricom is set to launch technical trials of its 4G network this month, reports IT News Africa. CEO Michael Joseph said that Safaricom, Kenya’s leading mobile network by subscribers, plans to use the analogue frequencies left idle by the planned transition to digital television in 2015 for a long term evolution (LTE) platform. Joseph explained that there are a number of spectrum options for Safaricom to operate in, but feels that the analogue frequencies will give the operator the required leeway for a commercial rollout.
Joseph commented: ‘With 4G there are a number of spectrums you can operate from. The one we see as most viable for us will be that of analogue TV broadcast that is to be shut down’. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Safaricom is the only Kenyan mobile operator to currently operate a 3G network, although Zain Kenya was awarded a 3G licence for KES815 million (USD10 million) in June 2010. Telkom Kenya has criticised Safaricom’s plans, claiming that the country is not yet ready for 4G technology, as the Kenya lacks the relevant spectrum and equipment. Joseph protested: ‘We are not there yet because there are no devices, but I don’t see why anybody should say we are not ready because Kenya is always ready – like we proved with 3G. The reason why we are looking at testing 4G is because it is a natural technology growth from 3G’.