YooMee plans to follow its launch of West Africa's first TD-LTE network in Côte d'Ivoire last weekend with expansion to other areas of West and Central Africa.
"In general, we look into the large region of West and Central Africa," YooMee Africa CEO Dov Bar-Gera said via email. "We feel very comfortable in both English- and French- speaking countries. We prefer countries with direct access to the submarine cables but we will certainly evaluate other opportunities as well. We need a well-defined legal and regulatory environment before we enter a new market."
Cote d'Ivoire was chosen for the first launch because of its economic potential, transparent legal situation and a well-functioning regulatory environment, he said.
"There are also many synergies between our initial operations in Cameroon and Côte d'Ivoire that we could take advantage of," he added. "It's the language, the same legal frame of OHADA (Organization for Harmonization of Business Law in Africa), our team from Douala supported their colleagues in Abidjan resulting in great acceleration of processes."
YooMee was able to launch its LTE (long-term evolution) network within two months using technology deployed in China recently.
"We chose the system vendor last year, shortly after China Mobile awarded its order among others to Alcatel-Lucent. So, by the time we received the operational permissions from Regulatory Counsel, the vendor decision was taken, the sites identified and the people hired," Bar-Gera said. "We promised to be up and running quickly. The local management and the local team were and still are highly motivated to enter the market as fast as possible. Market conditions are quite in favor for a newcomer: we are using the towers of IHS, the government through its business promotion agency CEPICI helps to reduce import barriers, there are good technical people available to be hired."
This will be the model for YooMee to deploy services in developing areas in need of faster Internet service because "the region is thirsty for high speed Internet," he said. "Unfortunately, the access to some markets is still difficult due to governmental issues. But in general, if we take Cameroon or Côte d'Ivoire as an example, markets will open and the people will enjoy very soon high-end and high-speed Internet access."
LTE will open the doors for innovative applications, products, services and solutions aimed at a range of devices, said Kevin Li, who is public relations manager for the Huawei Technologies in West Africa, via email. It will facilitate the introduction of new services in areas such as consumer electronics and appliances, health care, public utilities and HD video.
Urban areas, especially central business districts, will be the first to have LTE networks because of their larger populations, he added.
According to Quantum-Web's Africa Broadband Tariffs Analysis released Monday, broadband pricing in the African continent in the fourth quarter of last year declined slightly compared to the previous quarter, with the introduction and availability of LTE services in Algeria, Namibia and South Africa leading to a drop in wireless broadband prices in those countries.
"In the next few years, more commercialized LTE networks will be deployed in West Africa by operators," Li said. "Enterprises could be a huge revenue source for LTE but with its large capacity and low latency, LTE is a more cost-effective way to replace traditional ways to provide enterprise services. More subscribers will be connected through capable LTE devices in this region."