Safaricom’s subscribers will now access the internet at much faster speeds, following a $ 860,215 upgrade of the firm’s 3G network in Nairobi.
Subscribers on Safaricom’s Data Belt, an area served by 80 3G base stations covering Langata, Lavington, Westlands, Upperhill, South C, South B and parts of Industrial Area, which traditionally show high internet usage, will now have faster speeds that can potentially go up to 21Mbps.
Safaricom upgraded and has been testing its data network in these areas at for the last two weeks.
“We understand the huge potential of the internet as a tool that can bring about massive improvements in education, entertainment, health service provision, agriculture and other facets of life,” said Safaricom chief executive Bob Collymore.
Before the upgrade, the maximum speeds for a subscriber was at 7.2 Mbps while the maximum capability of a 3G base station was 14 Mbps. Following the latest upgrade, which cost about $ 10,753 per site, the user experience in terms of internet speeds is expected to at least double.
Average user internet speed is currently between 700 Kbps to 1.5 Mbps during busy hours.
With the upgrade and using a high speed modem, which are now available at Safaricom Shops, the user will now enjoy average speeds of between 2.5 and 3 Mbps during peak hours and maximum speeds in excess of 17 Mbps off-peak.
Actual speeds may not reach the maximum level as 3G is a shared resource and speeds are eventually dependant on usage levels at a given time.
Safaricom plans to further extend the data upgrade to the rest of Nairobi with another 50 sites earmarked for an identical revamp in the next three months before the program is taken to the rest of Nairobi and other key towns in Kenya, starting with Mombasa.
Mr Collymore noted that the move was a direct response to consumer concerns and promised that the firm would continue listening and acting upon user feedback.
The upgrade of Safaricom’s consumer data offering also saw the introduction of new modems to support the speeds. The modems also come with expandable memory.
Safaricom was the first Kenyan operator to commercially launch a 3G network after paying a $ 25 million license fee to the CCK in October 2007, defying market convention and ensuring that its subscribers accessed high speed mobile data. The technology was initially available in and around Nairobi but was later rolled throughout the country within a year.
Safaricom has been actively investing in its 3G networ
k, the only one in Kenya since it was launched. The network boasts the kind of wide reach and versatility that will ensure data customers take full advantage of the latest upgrade as the consumer data market continues to record rising demand.