Somtel has contracted Alcatel-Lucent to deploy its Long-Term Evolution (LTE) infrastructure in Somalia.
The LTE network will enable Somtel, part of the Dahabshiil Group, to provide faster data services to its clients.
Making the announcement in Nairobi, Saeed Dauleh, board member, Somtel said that LTE will enable the firm - whose network covers Kismayu to the Red Sea in Djibouti - provide more enhanced services to its subscribers.
"Somtel was the first operator to invest in 3G in Somalia over three years ago and today we are celebrating another first as we become the first operator to launch the country's LTE network. Already, several LTE sites are being tested while data cards and LTE-enabled devices are also under trial," said Dualeh.
Tony Wood, country senior officer, Alcatel -Lucent East Africa said that the Somalia contract joins other deployments being done by Alcatel-Lucent in the region, including Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda as well as a scheduled deployment in Ethiopia.
"There's a lot of capacity along Africa's coastline and the main issue now is how to ensure that underserved areas also get connectivity. The most appropriate way to provide access and improve connectivity is via wireless technologies like 3G and 4G or LTE," said Wood, adding that the first phase of the Somtel contract involves the deployment of 70 LTE sites in 2014 before moving to the next stage.
Somalia currently has an estimated 1.5 million mobile subscribers, while Somtel has 33 per cent market share in the country, which is equivalent to around 495,000 clients.
Somalia has a number of MNOs apart from Somtel including Nationlink, Hormuud, Golis, Telcom, Netco and Telesom.