Airtel expands 3G footprint

By Lukas Ajanaku, Lagos, Nigeria

Airtel has taken another step towards building the largest 3G network across Africa by launching of its 3G mobile platform in another country along the west coast of the continent.

The telco has launched the 3G mobile platform in Sierra Leone, a development which promises to change how subscribers experience the web on internet-enabled cell phones, says the company.

According to the telco, the improved technology will enhance multimedia functionality, high speed mobile broadband and internet access; allowing users to make video calls, watch live TV, send and receive emails, and download music from the handheld devices.

“3G technology will give our customers the opportunity to interact with cellular technology in a different way,” explains Airtel Sierra Leone's Managing Director, Teddy R.V.S. Bhullar.

“This is why Airtel doesn’t see 3G as a product, but rather as a platform that enables our subscribers to experience data better.”

There are currently about 400 million mobile subscribers in Africa, according to data from McKinsey & Co. Telecommunications is one of the continent’s fastest growing industries with a rapidly expanding cellular phone market that now includes internet access, mobile banking and mobile commerce.

With this in mind, Airtel has remained committed to improving its network coverage, bringing communication opportunities to rural populations that, until now, have been left out of the telecommunications revolution in Africa. This will work in tandem with the availability of 3G to ensure that Airtel can provide Sierra Leone with a level of internet access that can help bridge the digital divide.

“Although it is widely accepted and recognized that giving people access to basic telecommunications is critical for development, such access is still unobtainable by many on the continent. Communication should be a basic right, not a privilege. Connecting the unconnected population – through telecommunications – will enhance social, cultural and commercial participation. Our 3G platform will allow subscribers to combine the enormous potential of the internet with the convenience of cellular phones.” said Bhullar.

Depending on the device type of the user, once connected to the 3G network, the device will display 3G, 3.5G, HSDPA, WCDMA or HSPA.

Airtel will be rolling out its data network across all its markets with the objective of building the largest 3G network across the continent, and will continue to provide convenient and innovative services to all.

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