First 3G services reach central Africa

Bharti airtel rolls out 3G network services in the Congo.

Bharti airtel has announced the roll out of HSPA technology in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the first 3G licence to be issued in central Africa. The only other French-speaking African nation to have 3G services is Senegal.

The 3G network should allow download speeds of up to 21Mbps and its release is part of bharti airtel’s plan to build the largest 3G network in Africa. The telco provides services in 16 African countries.

“The issuance of the licence is a significant move by the Congolese government and a milestone in a region that is set to embrace first world mobile platforms,” a bharti airtel spokesman said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Tiemoko Coulibaly, CEO of Airtel Africa, Francophone, spoke warmly of the benefits of the technology, which would allow users to interact with data in a different way. “Airtel doesn’t see 3G as a product but a platform that enables the community to expand its horizons, alongside the rest of the world,” he said.

The network infrastructure was deployed by Nokia Siemens Network, followed by its partnership struck with bharti airtel. As well as deploying 3G networks in Congo Brazzaville, NSN will be expanding bharti airtel’s 2G infrastructure and building 3G networks in Madagascar, Malawi, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

This has been a busy time for mobile telecoms in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Last week, we reported on France Telecom-Orange’s acquisition of Congo mobile operator Congo Chile Telecom (read here).

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