Kenya’s telecommunications giant Safaricom Limited (NSE: SCOM) has launched an expanded 4G network which will now be fully available in seven cities across the country.
To coincide with the launch, the telco offered free helicopter rides that will enable more than 300 customers experience its 4G network in the 7 cities.
The development means that Safaricom customers in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru, Eldoret, Meru and Kisii now have full 4G coverage, bringing the total number of counties covered by the service up to 30.
“As announced during our full year results in May, we have experienced a 77 percent increase in mobile data usage per customer, with overall smartphone ownership more than doubling. Our continuing initiatives to enhance the network experience will ensure that we continue to progress our vision to democratize data for all Kenyans,” said Sylvia Mulinge, Director – Consumer Business, Safaricom.
Safaricom is currently on an ambitious rollout program to put up an additional 500 4G base stations before the end of the year. The expanded rollout will bring the firm’s 3G and 4G footprint to more than 4,600 sites, cementing Safaricom’s position as the leading provider of superfast internet in the region.
To drive mobile data uptake, Safaricom has implemented a 36 percent reduction in data pricing even as it continues its investment in building the most advanced 2G, 3G and 4G capability. Safaricom customers can now purchase a weekly 4G 200 MB data bundle at only 99 shillings while monthly 4G data bundles will be priced as low as 1,499 for a 5 GB data bundle.
Customers on 4G can do more with five times faster internet speeds that guarantee buffer-free, crystal-clear videos and music streaming, faster social media uploads and instant downloads.
To empower customers to have control over their spending, Safaricom recently introduced My Data Manager, which allows users to manage how their data is used. Customers can dial *544# to access My Data Manager.
The company also has a number of devices that are optimized for the 4G experience, including the Neon Turbo 7 and the Samsung Z2.
Subscribers upgrading to 4G will also be rewarded with a free 4 GB bundle for them to experience the technology and the speeds it delivers.
All Safaricom customers can check if they have a 4G enabled SIM card by dialing *544# and selecting “Safaricom 4G Bundles and SIM Check”. Safaricom will offer free SIM Swaps for customers switching to 4G SIM cards.
These 4G initiatives will cement the country’s position as a regional mobile innovation powerhouse and positions Kenya as one of Africa’s leading markets with fast, affordable broadband internet.
In 2003, Safaricom became the first operator in Kenya to roll out mobile data on the 2G platform; and five years later, was again the first to launch its 3G platform.