With consumer trends showing growing demand for high-speed Internet, countries are now well and truly in the era of fourth-generation long-term evolution well known as 4G LTE, with broadband operators rallying to provide improved data services for communication, work, play and business.Speed, efficiency and practicality are the main reasons why more and more people are using both mobile and fixed-line Internet, and 4G LTE seamless data services seem to be the latest solution to serve that purpose. As 4G technology provides new experiences and attunes the attitudes and mind-sets of millions to the mobile digital lifestyle, intensive efforts are underway in different parts of the world to develop cellular broadband services. Safaricom, a subsidiary of Vodafone United Kingdom and the biggest wireless carrier in the Kenya, has disclosed that it is expanding its broadband infrastructure with plans which covers all of Kenya’s districts and cities in the next three years. Other broadband providers in the East African region have this year launched their latest products aimed at providing a fixed broadband connection service for small and medium enterprises. One of them is called Smiles Communication that has set up in Uganda’s capital and neighboring Entebbe as well as Tanzanian commercial capital Dar Es Salaam. It is focusing its services on fixed connections for Internet while others are focusing on data centers and cable TV, especially in built-up areas. Several other companies are known to be at advanced planning stages to launch 4G services in the first half of 2015, a move industry experts expects the rollout to boost both subscriber numbers and handset sales and as well as students.
There is no doubt huge demand and expectations, broadband operators must pay serious attention to mobile data services. Coverage must be noted. Not only that, the network connecting the base transceiver stations need to have a large capacity and also connections with the global Internet. End-to-end services must be good as well according to an expert I spoke to few weeks back.When I asked a South African telecom engineer whether people’s expectations could be met across the continent, she replied that users were generally happy with fast Internet, and that they are ready to buy 4G LTE-compatible devices and smartphones in anticipation of the standard becoming more common in Africa .In her country, the response is positive and she has predicted that the 4G market would account for 40 percent of total users accessing the Internet in South Africa next year. Success in this area, she added, would depend on the operators’ commitment to providing quality data services. In terms of business, the operators could improve quality if they are willing to work together on a sharing basis. If they can share towers, then they can work together to improve the quality of 4G services. The business potential from broadband is very high because in developing countries across the world the Internet penetration rate is still low but the demand is high. The business potential is very high, especially if seen from the existing industry regulations among the BRICS countries.In East Africa, the current broadband penetration is directed at a user base. This means that companies build fiber-optic networks, then provide access using Wi-fi, so that they can lower investment costs. Not everybody can afford to pay through their noses every month just to access the Internet. Countries should aim to have broadband reach at least half the urban population and at least the same of the total number of households in the medium term to achieve economic objectives. In rural areas, broadband penetration is almost non existent in some countries and there’s urgent need to address the huge gaps between rural and urban areas.