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Africa’s first all-LTE networks for the East

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Smile Telecoms has extended its partnership with Alcatel-Lucent, to serve as its sole LTE network provider in Tanzania, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo markets.

Alcatel-Lucent will provide design, build and operate services for Smile’s nationwide LTE networks as part of a planned 5-year partnership to bring true fixed and mobile broadband services to Africa.

Daniel Jaeger, Vice-President of Alcatel-Lucent in Africa, said: ‚”We are very pleased to partner with Smile to extend their 4G LTE services in Africa. With the delivery of new in-demand services, Alcatel-Lucent’s LTE solution will allow Smile to grow their business and, at the same time, develop mobile broadband further in this economically burgeoning region.‚”

Earlier this year, Smile became the first network and services operator to deploy a true commercial 800 MHz LTE network in Africa. Our networks in Tanzania and Uganda have out-performed our initial expectations: Our customers have experienced speeds well in excess of what can be obtained from other operators, and we have seen consistently stellar satisfaction levels.

We have proven the technology, we’ve tested the business model, we’ve tested market demand and consumer experience, we’ve tested our partnership, and we’ve tested our commercial deployment strategy. Based on our results, the time has come to shift from testing to doing. Smile will be in a position to roll out nationwide coverage of full 800 Mhz LTE services in all three of our markets within 3 years.

Working together, we will launch full geographic and service coverage in Dar Es Salaam and Kampala before the end of Q1 2013, with near-national coverage in both markets as early as 2014.

Our services will include ADSL-type connectivity for businesses and homes, as well as full mobile broadband, at speeds up to 20Mbs. The speed, quality and reliability of these services will allow our customers to experience the full benefits of LTE, including real-time video streaming without buffering, video calls which live up to their promise and a reliable platform for health, commerce and education services. Smile will provide both wholesale and retail services in all of our markets.

The announcement occurs in the broader context of Smile’s strategic vision, which is to provide affordable, high-quality and easy-to-use broadband access and communication services to everyone across Africa. We will accomplish this by combining our business model with the latest technologies, and working with partners such as Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson.

We believe that the long-term social and economic impact of mobile broadband in Africa has only begun to emerge, and will continue to transform our Continent. We expect particularly strong demand growth for data services – most of it driven by mobile broadband.

Smile is uniquely placed to meet this burgeoning demand: We have the required spectrum allocation, and we are not limited by legacy infrastructure, legacy-related costs or outdated business models.

Based on our market experience, we believe that initial product uptake will be particularly high amongst existing internet users looking for higher quality, faster speeds and greater reliability than is available from the market. However, as prices for devices and smart phones begin to tumble, we will offer true mobile broadband that is not only better than anything else on the market, but also more affordable.

Smile believes that broadband access will transform Africa beyond all recognition, and that our 800 MHz LTE offering will similarly transform broadband.

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Africa gets broadband boost

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ITU and Nexpedience, a supplier of proprietary point-to-multipoint broadband infrastructure, are partnering to bring broadband access to Africa.

Under the terms of the deal, Nexpedience will provide 180 new Expedience base stations worth USD 1 million, to be deployed in six nations across the continent. The first nation to benefit from the new infrastructure is Burundi, with deployments also planned for Djibouti, Burkina Faso, Mali, Rwanda and Swaziland.

Designed to withstand extreme meteorological conditions and capable of providing up to 32 kilometres of sector coverage, Nexpedience’s base stations have been specifically designed for rural deployment.

ITU’s Wireless Broadband Network in Africa project aims to develop and implement wireless broadband connectivity and applications that will provide free or low-cost digital access for schools, hospitals, and under-served populations in rural and remote areas Africa-wide.

At the signing of the agreement in Geneva, Brahima Sanou, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT) emphasized the need to make developing countries part of the global broadband revolution: ‚”This partnership represents another important element in ITU’s efforts to bring broadband technology to the world even in the poorest nations. I am confident that this new partnership will accelerate broadband uptake right across the African continent, bringing the power of high-speed connectivity to users everywhere, from big cities to small villages.‚”

Kiriako Vergos, CEO of Nexpedience said: ‚”Giving access to broadband technology to underserved populations in Africa is of great importance to us. There are enormous benefits to be derived from a ‚’broadband-seed’ deployment strategy, and we decided to partner with ITU because we know that the organization has the team in place to get it done.‚”

ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Tour√© said the new agreement is a ‚”major step forward in getting Africa connected‚”. Dr Tour√© led the establishment of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development in 2010, which has the aim of putting broadband at the heart of the global development agenda.

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Nokia backs tech hubs for developing world

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Nokia, AppCampus and infoDev are collaborating with mobile innovation hubs across Africa, Asia and Latin America to act as scouts for local talent.

Nokia, AppCampus and infoDev, a global innovation program of the World Bank, have announced a collaboration with mobile innovation hubs across Africa, Asia and Latin America – a move that will empower these hubs to act as scouts and agents for local talent, fast-tracking their access to AppCampus funding.

AppCampus was established in 2012 as a mobile application accelerator program managed by Aalto University in Finland. With an 18 million euro joint investment between Microsoft and Nokia, the aim is to foster mobile application development on Windows Phone and any other Nokia platform.

The announcement earmarks part of that investment fund for twenty six awards per annum for the best mobile innovation ideas to be made via the mobile innovation hub network, starting with infoDev’s mobile application labs in South Africa, Kenya, Armenia and Vietnam, as well as mobile application laboratories in Egypt (TIEC), Nigeria (CC Hub) and Mexico. The value of each award ranges from 20,000 Euro (US$ 26,000) to 70,000 Euro (US$ 90,000) depending on the complexity of the solution or business model behind the idea.

‚”By working jointly with the mobile innovation hubs, we are able to connect more effectively with local developers in emerging markets and provide support in terms of funding, especially for locally relevant innovations,‚” says Pekka Sivonen, Head of AppCampus. ‚”Although the criteria to access the AppCampus funding remains the same, with ideas needing to be original, competitive and scalable, the advantage is faster processing and the mentorship provided by these innovation hubs.‚”

The hubs and mLabs will be responsible for scouting talent and vetting ideas to be submitted to the global pool. infoDev’s mLabs foster regional entrepreneurship, employment and competitiveness by providing open spaces where developers can find training, mentoring, technical expertise and access to financing. In a short time, mLab-supported startups have brought over 120 commercial apps to market The best new entries from this network will compete against each other each quarter for the available awards.

‚”Nokia, working closely with infoDev, has supported the establishment and operation of a number of mLabs across emerging markets in support of local developers,‚” says Jussi Hinkkanen, vice president corporate relations for Nokia Middle East and Africa. ‚”The AppCampus collaboration showcases our commitment to strengthening the growing mLab network around the world and infoDev’s vision of supporting emerging market entrepreneurs in conquering local, regional and global markets‚”.

The official launch of the program took place during the mobile stream at the Global Forum on Innovation & Technology Entrepreneurship in East London, South Africa, organized by infoDev and the South African Department of Science & Technology. A key theme of the Forum is how innovation can lead to high-growth entrepreneurship which creates sustainable jobs. Valerie D’Costa, infoDev’s Program Manager says, ‚”The AppCampus initiative fits with the philosophy of infoDev of supporting innovative entrepreneurs from developing countries. We want to support those who can excel with some level of mentorship, skills training and seed financing. We provide potential job-creators better access to markets, which is what we are all about.‚”

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