March 31, 2010 / 6:52 AM / 8 years ago

Kenya's Safaricom says to test 4G later in 2010

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya’s leading telecoms firm Safaricom plans to start testing super-fast fourth generation (4G) services on its network later this year, its chief executive was quoted saying on local media.

A Safaricom sales representative arranges solar-charged mobile phone handsets for display at a retail centre in Kenya's capital Nairobi, in this September 22, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya/Files

Safaricom, east Africa’s biggest company by market capitalisation, already runs a 3G network but says 4G would bring faster speeds, especially for corporate clients.

“The reason why we are looking at testing 4G is because it is a natural technology growth from 3G to 4G,” Michael Joseph told Citizen Television late on Tuesday.

Fourth-generation technology, also known as Long-Term Evolution (LTE), typically allows users to upload and download movies, music and data to their mobile devices far quicker than at present.

Joseph did not give a timeframe for when Safaricom, which typically accounts for more than half the shares traded each day on the Nairobi Stock Exchange, planned to start testing 4G.

In an interview with Reuters earlier this month, Joseph said he hoped to get obtain some 4G spectrum this year although he added it might be insufficient to make commercially available immediately.

Safaricom is the only operator in Kenya with a 3G licence.

The company, which is 40 percent owned by Britain’s Vodafone, says it has over 15 million active SIM subscribers, giving it roughly 80 percent of the mobile telecoms market in east Africa’s biggest economy.

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