Somaliland-based telecoms operator Somtel has contracted equipment vendor Alcatel-Lucent to deploy a 4G LTE network. CIO East Africa cites Somtel board member Saeed Dauleh as saying that the deal will enable it to provide faster data services to its customers. ‘Somtel was the first operator to invest in 3G in Somalia over three years ago and today we are celebrating another first as we become the first operator to launch the country’s LTE network. Already, several LTE sites are being tested while data cards and LTE-enabled devices are also under trial,’ Dualeh said. Under the first phase of the contract, around 70 LTE sites will be deployed across the country during 2014, according to Tony Wood of Alcatel-Lucent East Africa. Somtel, part of the Dahabshiil Group, provides pre- and post-paid GSM mobile telephony and data services over a GPRS/EDGE network in Somaliland and launched third-generation (3G) services in July 2011.