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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

OF 4G, NETBOOKS, ENGINEERING SCHOOLS, SAFCOM


Safaricom's CEO Michael Joseph is notoriously impatient with inefficiencies.

Being main sponsor of this year's connected government conference in Diani at the Coast, Joseph took to podium and rattled a few issues that have apparently been on his mind.

1. Kenyan engineers like most technical support people are doing a crappy job of meeting client's expectations. If a gadget blows for example, the technician goes and gets another and if it blows again he gets another. If the third doesn't blow then he says. A-hah..it works!

Basically, Joseph put it across that the level of standards in service provision in technical areas needed to be raised. To this end, Safaricom has partnered with Huawei Technologies to establish a finishing school of sorts for trained engineers where additional skill sets will be imparted.

The school will be hosted at Moi University.

Huawei will provide support while Safaricom through its HR department will provide the resource persons.

2. Joseph spoke about rolling out 4G later this year in Kenya. 4G or Long Term Evolution is seen as the successor to 3G technology and has already been tested in such areas as Stockholm, Sweden. LTE is gaining momentum as the next generation technology beating out WiMax.

To Joseph, nowhere in the world do we need 4G like in Kenya. Joseph had said last year that Huawei was testing 4G for Safaricom but had given no timeline.

Industry regulator CCK had at that time no idea what 4G was so it will be interesting what the event timeline on this including CCK's licensing and fee charged will be.

3. Net books...Safaricom is apparently searching for vendors of cheap but quality netbooks in the region of about US$200 (Sh15,000). This he feels will finally allow the push of internet into the lower echelon households which currently cannot afford the laptops in the market.

Joseph said he had spoken with numerous vendors and currently the main barrier was the licenses for the software that the netbooks would run. Licensing typically adds to the cost of a device.

The connected government conference continues. Will update more as discussions and presentations continue.

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