Smile Telecoms has announced the extension of its existing partnership agreement with Alcatel-Lucent, to serve as Smile’s sole LTE network provider in its markets in Tanzania, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Alcatel-Lucent will provide comprehensive Design, Build and Operate services for Smile’s nationwide LTE networks as part of a planned 5-year partnership to bring true fixed and mobile broadband services to Africa.
Earlier this year, Smile became the first network and services operator to deploy a true commercial 800 Mhz LTE network in Africa, with installed networks in Tanzania and Uganda.
“We’ve tested the technology, we’ve tested the business model, we’ve tested market demand and consumer experience, we’ve tested our partnership, and we’ve tested our commercial deployment strategy. Based on our results, the time has come to stop testing and start doing. Smile will be in a position to roll out nationwide coverage of full 800 Mhz LTE services in all three of our markets within 3 years,” said
Working together, the companies will aim to launch full geographic and service coverage in Dar Es Salaam and Kampala before the end of Q1 2013, with near-national coverage in both markets in 2014.
Services will include ADSL-type connectivity for businesses and homes, as well as full Mobile Broadband, at speeds up to 20Mbs.
“The speed, quality and reliability of these services will allow our customers to experience the full benefits of LTE, including real-time video streaming without buffering, video calls which live up to their promise and a reliable platform for health, commerce and education services. Smile will provide both wholesale and retail services in all of our markets,”
Today’s announcement occurs in the broader context of Smile’s strategic vision, which is to provide affordable, high-quality and easy-to-use broadband access and communication services to everyone across Africa. We will accomplish this by combining our innovative business model with the latest technologies, and working with industry-leading partners such as Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson.
“We believe that the long-term social and economic impact of mobile broadband in Africa has only begun to emerge, and will continue to transform our Continent. We expect particularly strong demand growth for data services – most of it driven by mobile broadband,” said Daniel Jaeger, Vice-President of Alcatel-Lucent activities in Africa.
Smile leadership believes the company is uniquely placed to meet this burgeoning demand because it has the required spectrum allocation, and “we are not limited by legacy infrastructure, legacy-related costs or outdated business models,” says
Based on its market experience, the company believes that initial product uptake will be particularly high amongst existing internet users looking for higher quality, faster speeds and greater reliability than is available from the market. However, as prices for devices and smart phones begin to tumble, we will offer true mobile broadband that is not only better than anything else on the market, but also more affordable.
Chris Tredger, Online Editor