A new technology, 4G, is being introduced in Africa, even before it reaches Europe. 4G allows subscribers to surf the net with their cell phone even faster than what can be achieved by ADSL at home, at least 4 times the speed of the most advanced current 3G services.
SIMLE, a Tanzania-based cell phone operator believes in a bright future. It has acquired Franco-American Alcatel-Lucent technology to provide the next generation of ultra-high-speed internet on cell phones in Dar-es-Salaam, which is now fully covered by 4G services.
The company has plans to extend its domestic network beyond the Tanzania to other countries, DRC, Uganda and Nigeria, where it is operating.
In Namibia, MTC claims its 4G network has over 1000 subscribers only 3 months after its launch in Windhoek. The data 4G can transfer is so fast and reliable that it becomes possible to watch an HD video from YouTube without any lag or buffering on a compatible smartphone.
In Angola, a similar service operated by MOVICELL is already operational in Luanda with, this time, equipment provided by Chinese company ZTE.
Gradually, governments throughout Africa are auctioning away precious 4G licenses. For instance Morocco is planning to sell its frequencies in the autumn, so that services can start in 2014. Frequencies vary from one country to another, depending on current availability of the spectrum.
But a word of caution to those planning to buy the new superfast iPhone5 to take advantage of this new technology: that smart phone might not work at all. In fact, it won’t even work in several European countries.
The reason why iPhone5 might not work in some places is simple. Apple chose to limit the number of frequency bands its new smartphone is able to receive 4G signals on. Tanzania’s 800Mhz 4G band is unfortunately not one of them.
iPhone5, according to available reports, can only work on 850, 1800, 1900 or 2100 Mhz.
So before investing in this 800 dollar device, one must check which frequencies their government is planning to develop 4G in.
For now, to use 4G in countries like Tanzania, Android-based smartphone will prove a better choice, until Apple offers a more compatible version of its new phone.