Business News of 2014-08-16

Local firm to pioneer 4G LTE next week

Surfline Communications Ghana is set to begin commercial operations on Tuesday to provide consumers what could be the fastest Internet and data communication services ever in the country.

Surfline, a wholly-owned Ghanaian firm, is one of the three fourth-generation (4G) Long Term Evolution (LTE) providers licenced by the National Communication Authority at a combined fee of US$18million to enable them to provide high-speed mobile broadband internet services within the 4G range.

4G LTE empowers customers with compatible devices to surf the Web, post status updates and photos, download files, play games, surf the web or watch videos (or live-streams) wirelessly at speeds up to 10 times faster than customers on 3G networks.

The Head of Planning at Surfline, Nana Aduhene, said the company -- established in 2011-- has taken a technological leap to deliver seamless Internet services to consumers in a way that is unmatched by the country’s telecom operators who allow customers to stream large amount data over already-jammed cellular networks.

He said latency, which measures how much time it takes for a packet of data to get from one point to another and jitters -- layers and steps a command goes through before the webpage loads -- is significantly low in the new generation 4G LTE technology, which is expected to boost customer experience and attract data-hungry clients to its network.

“As a result of the absence of the jitters and low latency, you will not experience the kind of challenge you get with 3G -- like when your reception signal is full and the data checker reads H+ and yet you have slow speed. This one displays 4G and the quality of service corresponds to what the checker says,” he said.

Nana Aduhene assured that customers should expect to access the Internet at a speed of up to 100megabyte per second, even though practical speed, he admits, has yielded up to 80mbps.

Surfline started testing its 4G LTE networks in June this year in an attempt to shape customer experience before the commercial launch.

According to the Marketing Director of Surfline Ghana, Rosy Fynn, feedback the company has so far received from the trial period has shown that the company is on course to win over data customers and meet the emergent and largely unfulfilled data needs of businesses, government agencies, professional communities and residential users.

“We distributed at least 1,000 devices to key people across Accra to use for a couple of months and we got very valuable positive and negative feedback, which helped us to push the limits and deliver what the public wants. Now we believe we are ready to go,” she said.

Ms. Fynn said the launch of Surline’s commercial operation will be limited to clients in the Greater Accra Region, which has a population of about 4.5 million.

Currently, there are more than 100 licenced ISPs in the country -- in addition to the six mobile network operators who are all offering data services at a price that is seen by many ISPs as anti-competitive.

4G LTE operators are expected to change the way customers interact with the world via next generation apps, devices and solutions. However, data consumers should not expect 4G LTE services to be cheaper than the current market price.

Source: B&FT
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