Zain Kenya to launch 3G in July 2010.
This is probably the biggest news in Kenya’s telecoms sector after Safaricom’s stunning financial results from last week. According to various online news sources, Zain Kenya is on track to secure a license for 3G services by July 2010. This comes on the back of an announcement from Zain Kenya’s CEO Rene Meza who says that the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) has agreed to (finally!) lower 3G license fees from the current astronomical US$ 25 Million to a significantly less expensive price. If this is indeed true then the CCK should be announcing the new 3G license rates sometime this week according to media reports.
Zain Kenya is currently Kenya’s second largest mobile network with around 2 million users. Currently, Zain only offers 2.5 G services and as such are unable to compete effectively with Safaricom’s 3G service. In addition, neither YU or Orange Kenya have 3G as well and we are yet to hear what their reactions will be to this latest announcement. One thing is certain, mobile data is fast becoming a linchpin for Safaricom’s superior business performance for both retail and business customer segments. It will be interesting to see if Zain Kenya can match or better Safaricom’s 3G pricing going forward as this has been quite expensive for most users to-date. Whatever the case, its been a long time coming but finally 3G will be more widespread in Kenya.
In light of Zain Kenya going 3G, and presumably the same will happen with YU and Orange Kenya in due course, what remains to be seen is how Safaricom will respond. Incidentally, Safaricom have already announced that they plan to start testing 4G services later this year on their network. At this juncture as it stands, the CCK has not yet published the new reduced 3G license pricing, leave alone 4G so Safaricom is clearly well ahead of the market. 4G is also known as Long-Term Evolution (LTE) and typically allows users to upload and download movies, music and data to their mobile devices far quicker than 3G or 2G.