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4G competition heats up in Tanzania, Uganda

June 13, 2013  »  Business & MobileNo Comment

Smile Communications, with the support of Alcatel-Lucent, has been busy launching 4G LTE in East Africa this month. Just four weeks ago, the company, who has provided 4G service to businesses this year, launched commercial 4G LTE service in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Weeks later, Smile launched the same service in neighboring Kampala, Uganda.

Despite claims otherwise, Smile is not the first company to offer 4G LTE access in East Africa. MTN launched in Uganda in April and Tigo Tanzania launched in early May. Irene Charnley, Smile Group CEO, anticipates lower cost of internet as more users get on the network. Even if speeds do not live up to the hype, they should still be faster than what is currently available on 3G networks in the region. The service is still expensive though – a dongle plus 10gb data is USh 310,000 (USD 120).

As usual for an African 4G LTE launch, there has been substantial hype touting the benefits of 4G over other forms of mobile internet. Smile Uganda has been very active in promoting the new 4G service using the hashtag #SMILE4GLTE. A flurry of Tweets from launch attendees can be found, along with rather aggressive marketing from the mobile operator.


June 2013 Smile Uganda 4G LTE launch. {UgoUganda}

Recent quotes include a handful of arguable statements:

  • “no buffering no breaks in connection” (June 5)
  • “unmatched download speeds” (June 10)
  • “we can guarantee a seamless connection that will blow your mind” (June 10)
  • “enjoy the only true quality & reliable super fast internet connection in town” (June 10)
  • “the average user in Uganda uses up to 6Mbps speeds on internet, what we’re offering at smile is more than 60Mbps using our #Smile4GLTE” (June 6)

Although the above claims are more marketing than 100% truth, Smile’s intentions appear good. The company believes that access to the best technology results in increased usage and demand for broadband, which in turn allows people to fulfill their potential. Cited is a desire to enable e-health, e-government, and e-learning endeavors which perform best with stable broadband instead of spotty 2G.

For a list of all African 4G deployments, check out our constantly-updated “All About African 4G LTE” post.

P.S. Smile is also working with Alcatel-Lucent to deploy an LTE network in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

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