Mobile network operator Cellcom Liberia has extended its HSPA+ network, which is being offered as a ‘4G’ service, to the cities of Ganta, Sanniquellie, Yekepa and Gbarnga, meaning that high speed mobile internet is now available to people in the counties of Montserrado, Nimba, Bong, Margibi, and Sinoe. The carrier’s new CEO John Vasikaran called a press conference to announce the launch, claiming the operator now boasts the best ‘4G’ network coverage in the country. ‘A few weeks ago, when we officially launched our first 4G sites in Kakata and Greenville, I stood at this very podium and made a promise that Cellcom would continue to expand the coverage of our 4G network,’ he said. In the coming weeks and months, the cellco intends to open up new HSPA+ sites across Liberia until it has coverage of the entire territory, he added.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, in August 2012 Cellcom was investigated by the national regulator, the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA), over the network operator’s claim that it is able to offer 4G-based services. At the time the LTA released a statement noting that Cellcom’s operating licences only cover 2G (GSM) and 3G (W-CDMA/HSPA) cellular services. ‘With regard to Cellcom’s claim of having 4G capability, the LTA has embarked on an investigation exercise to determine the veracity of this claim as is being advertised by Cellcom,’ the watchdog said in the statement. Previously, in June 2012 Cellcom launched what it is calling a fourth-generation (4G) mobile network, offering customers advanced videocalling and high speed mobile internet access as affordable rates. However, TeleGeography notes that it is unlikely that the new infrastructure is a true 4G platform, given that in May that year the cellco revealed it was planning to deploy a high speed HSPA+ mobile network in partnership with Huawei – claiming a first for the African country. As such, the mobile operator is unlikely to be in breach of its operating licence as the HSPA+ upgrade does not constitute a full 4G network.