Having bagged what its parent company noted was its first third-generation concession in Central Africa, Airtel Congo, a subsidiary of Indian telecoms giant Bharti Airtel, has announced the launch of 3.5G services in the country. According to IT News Africa, the cellco has rolled out HSPA technology, offering theoretical downlink speeds of up to 21Mbps, with Beston Tshinsele, managing director at Airtel Congo stating of the development: ‘We are grateful to the Republic of Congo, represented by The Honorable Minister of Posts, Telecommunications and New Technology of Communications Thierry Moungalla today, for issuing the licence through the country’s regulator – [the] Agence de Regulation des Postes et des Communications Electroniques – and sharing our vision of enhancing the country’s telecommunication platform … Our 3G platform will allow subscribers to combine the enormous potential of the internet with the convenience of cellular phones and other devices.’
Tiemoko Coulibaly, CEO of Airtel Africa Francophone, meanwhile outlined the Indian company’s wider expectations for 3G deployment across Africa, noting: ‘3G technology will give our customers the opportunity to interact with data in a different way … This is why Airtel doesn’t see 3G as a product but a platform that enables the community expand its social and commercial horizons, alongside the rest of the world.’ According to the executive Airtel expects to continue rolling out 3G technology across all regions of operation in Africa with the objective of building the largest 3G network on the continent.
In order to achieve these goals, and as previously reported by CommsUpdate, last month it was revealed that Finnish telecommunications equipment vendor Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) had inked a deal with Bharti Airtel to expand the operator’s 2G infrastructure and deploy 3G networks in seven African countries. Under the agreement, NSN agreed to manage end-to-end network operations, including planning, designing and implementing the 2G and 3G networks for Airtel in the markets of Madagascar, Malawi, Congo Brazzaville, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. The vendor will provide its energy-efficient Flexi Multiradio Base Stations to expand network coverage to underserved areas, including smaller towns and villages in the seven countries. NSN is using its FlexiHybrid microwave radio to address growing data traffic and provide the platform for a cost-effective transition to 3G, and potentially 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks in the future. The company will also provide its NetAct network management system for effective network monitoring and management.