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Safaricom unveils 400G network

Safaricom CEO Bob Colymore
Safaricom CEO Bob Colymore (left) and chief technology officer Thibaud Rerolle during a past function in Nairobi. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU 

Safaricom #ticker:SCOM has unveiled its partnership with Chinese technology giant Huawei which will provide it with the world's first end-to-end 400G backbone network.

Making the announcement at the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona, Spain, on Wednesday, Safaricom's chief technology officer Thibaud Rerolle said the partnership will increase the telco's efficiency and reliability of services.

The latest technology will enable Safaricom support its growing internet needs and video streaming services for its home and mobile customers, thus giving the company more freedom with how it uses its network while supporting heavy usage by subscribers.

“The 400G solution will support the continued growth of our network which is being driven by an explosion in internet usage. Mobile data usage on our network has been doubling year-on-year while our fibre network now reaches more than 220,000 homes and 17,000 businesses across more than 10 towns. It was therefore prudent to invest in the latest network technology to ensure that we can support the demand from our customers for years to come,” said Mr Rerolle.

The network will be rolled out in two phases with Nairobi and Mombasa set to be the first to be connected.

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The 400Gbps network connection is said to be capable of transmitting “50 gigabytes of data every second — or, enough to stream 16,000 ultra-high-definition movies simultaneously,” according to researchers at Indiana University.

In the two years to September 2018, Safaricom has experienced a four-fold growth in average data usage per customer, from 160 megabytes to 640 megabytes per customer per month. Safaricom 4G coverage grew to more than 2,600 sites providing coverage to more than 53 percent of the country’s population while its 3G coverage now offers high-speed broadband to more than 91 percent of the population.

Safaricom has also laid more than 5,500 kilometres of fibre linking its masts in more than 16 major towns.

In an interview with the Business Daily in Barcelona, Liquid Telecom's group chief technology and innovation officer Ben Roberts said mobile phone companies have been upgrading their broadband capacity as they prepare for new investments.

The partnership between Safaricom and Huawei signals a step in this direction as the new technology is more efficient and cheaper to maintain compared to the 100G that Safaricom is currently using.

"Telecoms want to increase bandwidth compared to what they are now using. This means they are preparing for a big shift in the near future," he told Business Daily.

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