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Bitange Ndemo

By Semaj Itosno, Nairobi, Kenya

Kenya will be rolling out a Long Term Evolution (LTE) internet infrastructure before end of this year.

The 4G mobile network will provide fast speeds and higher bandwidth for multimedia services and is expected to boost the growth of online businesses in the country.

Information Permanent Secretary Dr Bitange Ndemo said Kenya’s Treasury had approved a public-private partnership to implement the network’s roll-out.

Dr. Ndemo said ‘rolling out LTE should start in a few months’ and that the roll-out will cost an estimated Sh42 billion with some parts of the country expected to start  reaping  4G benefits by the end of 2012.

“We want to target especially the rural areas that have thus far been technologically marginalized,” said Dr Ndemo.

He said that nine private firms in the consortium building the network include Kenya’s four main mobile phone operators, hardware manufacturers Nokia Siemens Networks and Alcatel-Lucent, Kenya Data Networks (KDN), South African mobile operator MTN and a US telecom firm.

In 2010, Safaricom signed a three-year Sh12 billion contract with Chinese mobile manufacturer, Huawei, to roll out a 4G network. With this new development Safaricom is yet to say whether it will change tack or go ahead with the plans.

South Africa was among the first African countries to pilot the 4G network and operators across Africa are excited to emulate their counterparts in Europe and North America to rollout out LTE.

Meanwhile leading Corporate Internet and IT Solutions Provider AccessKenya Group has connected 400 commercial buildings on its fast-expanding metropolitan Fibre Network in Nairobi and Mombasa.

This follows a rapid expansion plan initiated at the onset of the year to meet rising demand for fibre connectivity among its corporate clients.

AccessKenya’s Internet Division MD, Kris Senanu, said the company had invested over Sh100million this year alone towards this expansion, which will cover a 45km stretch in Nairobi and an additional 20kms in Mombasa. The expansion will see the company’s total fibre network coverage extend to over 350kms in the two towns.

“Our reliability of service has contributed immensely towards the growth on our network. The past two quarters have seen a surge in the demand for fibre mostly from our corporate clients,” said Senanu.

Group Projects Manager Ndung’u Njoroge noted that most of the civil works in the target areas for expansion are ongoing and on schedule for completion as the projections for the year.

“We are already working on the longer expansion routes in Nairobi with only one area pending approval due to consideration of the road expansion. We want to carefully lay the cables to avoid interruptions that may be occasioned by road construction in future,” said Mr. Njoroge.

This year, the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) listed company is targeting to connect 100 buildings on its network in Nairobi and Mombasa and already 50 have been connected. 

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