Statement by Mr. Tom Allen, COO of Smile Telecoms , at AfricaCom 2012, CTICC, Cape Town, South Africa.
Smile Telecoms is proud to announce the extension, this week, of its 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.
Daniel Jaeger, Vice-President of Alcatel-Lucent in Africa, said: “We are very pleased to partner with Smile to extend their 4G LTE services in Africa. With the delivery of new in-demand services, Alcatel-Lucent’s LTE solution will allow Smile to grow their business and, at the same time, develop mobile broadband further in this economically burgeoning region.”
Earlier this year, Smile became the first network and services operator to deploy a true commercial 800 Mhz LTE network in Africa. Our networks in Tanzania and Uganda have out-performed our initial expectations: Our customers have experienced speeds well in excess of what can be obtained from other operators, and we have seen consistently stellar satisfaction levels.
We have proven 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 shift from testing to 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.
Working together, we will 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 as early as 2014.
Our 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.
Smile is uniquely placed to meet this burgeoning demand: We have the required spectrum allocation, and we are not limited by legacy infrastructure, legacy-related costs or outdated business models.
Based on our market experience, we believe 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.
Smile believes that broadband access will transform Africa beyond all recognition, and that our 800 MHz LTE offering will similarly transform broadband. Smile is ready to lead this transformation. We’re focused on LTE, we know how to make it work, and we’re ready to roll out.