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Angola's Movicel launches LTE

ZTE and Huawei supplied technology for the network

Angolan telecom mobile operator Movicel has launched Africa's first commercial LTE network in the country's capital, Luanda.

The LTE network, built with technology from Chinese telecom equipment markers ZTE and Huawei, is designed to enable up to 120M bps Internet access. LTE is still being piloted by Africa's largest mobile operator, MTN, in South Africa, making Angola the first country in Africa to have a commercial LTE network.

As part of the project, ZTE will also provide LTE equipment for key markets across the country.

Angola, known for its decades of civil war over oil resources, is Africa's second-largest oil producer after Nigeria and is also the second-largest supplier of crude oil to China after Saudi Arabia. Angola is also China's largest trading partner in Africa.

China's work with Angola to launch the first LTE network in the region is a sign of how China is helping African countries develop the telecom sector in exchange for natural resources, and of Chinese telecom companies' dominance in the African mobile market. In Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana, China has spent millions of dollars to develop communication infrastructure in exchange for licenses in extractive industries and construction.

"China has penetrated Africa's telecom sector because of the combination of money and technology," said Edith Mwale, telecom analyst at Africa Center for ICT Development.

As in many other countries in Africa, ZTE is expected to start marketing smartphones on the Angolan market to enable as many people as possible to own handsets for data in addition to voice services.

Movicel plans to expand LTE coverage to all major cities across the country, according to company CEO Yon Moreira da Silver.

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