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Smile Uganda launches first true 4G LTE in Uganda

June 9, 2013 • East Africa, Mobile and Telecoms, Top Stories

Smile Communications Uganda Limited  today launched the first true 4G LTE broadband network in Uganda. Smile has had commercial customers using its 4G LTE services for the past six months and, with the launch, Smile becomes the only operator in Uganda to operate a full true 4G LTE service.

Daniel Jaeger, Vice-President of Alcatel-Lucent activities in Africa (image: Alcatel)

4G LTE or ‘Fourth Generation Long Term Evolution’ technology is set to become the global standard in the delivery of mobile data and voice services for at least the next decade, and possibly beyond. The benefits of 4G LTE lie in the radically improved user experience which enables ultra-high-speed internet access, stimulating digital innovation and accelerating broadband penetration. Smile’s network utilises true 4G LTE as its core technology, allowing it to deliver services with unparalleled speed, reliability, quality and ease-of-use, whilst maintaining competitive pricing. Smile’s all-LTE network transcends many of the inherent technical limitations of existing 3G and 3G+ networks, allowing it to maintain consistent, high-quality services even with high subscriber and usage volumes.

According to Smile Group CEO Irene Charnley, “True 4G LTE was chosen since it is the only standard which evolves continuously to meet the fast-expanding information, communication and entertainment needs of the people of Uganda.”

According to Fiona McGloin, Country Manager of Smile Uganda, “Based on feedback and usage data from our commercial customers, there is clearly an increase in demand for broadband access and services. In the past month alone, we’ve seen significant growth in our customer numbers and data usage. Smile is poised to capitalise on this demand and to raise customer expectations by delivering a better, faster, easier, and more reliable internet experience.”

Daniel Jaeger, Vice-President of Alcatel-Lucent in Africa said: “We are very pleased to accompany Smile to extend their 4G LTE services in Africa. After the recent launch in Tanzania, and now in Uganda, high speed wireless broadband becomes a reality, it will allow consumers to benefit from true high added-value services of 4G LTE technology.” He added: “Alcatel-Lucent has deep and global expertise to meet service providers’ challenges, and the introduction of the Alcatel-Lucent LTE solution by Smile in Uganda will make a significant contribution to the country’s economy in all sectors”.

Smile recently announced the extension of its agreement with Alcatel-Lucent to serve as Smile’s sole LTE network provider in three of its East and Central African markets.

Alcatel-Lucent is providing comprehensive Design, Build, Operate and Managed services for Smile’s national LTE networks in Tanzania, Uganda as well as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Uganda has seen breathtaking growth in mobile subscriptions and internet use, but overall internet and broadband penetration rates remain relatively low. “This,” says Charnley, “presents us with a huge opportunity for growth. As the internet becomes more ubiquitous and more accessible, people in Uganda have become accustomed to high quality and consistent service. True 4G LTE is the only way to meet these expectations.”

Smile launched Africa’s first true 4G LTE network in Tanzania less than a month ago, and is the only Ugandan operator currently to utilise the 800 MHz frequency band (as opposed to the 2.6 GHz range used by other operators). Operating within the 800 MHz band provides Smile customers with more efficient indoor coverage, which means a much more consistent and faster internet experience.
In contrast to ADSL (which provides average data speeds of 1 Mbps) and existing 3G networks (with average speeds of 3 Mbps), Smile’s true 4G LTE technology allows customers to experience data download speeds of 6 Mbps on average.

Staff writer

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