Smile launched Africa’s first 4G LTE broadband internet service in Tanzania in March 2013. Since then, other mobile operators started offering 4G services in Tanzania, namely Tigo, Vodacom, Zantel, Smart, and TTCL.
By 2019, 4G networks reached 28% of Tanzania’s population, compared to 99% in Rwanda, 61% in Kenya, 23% in Uganda, and 43% in Sub-Saharan Africa.
This underscores the need for more robust enabling policies as well as greater collaboration between mobile operators, government agencies such as the Universal Communications Service Access Fund (UCSAF) and other stakeholders, including the World Bank and development organisations.
Mobile operators’ continued investment in network infrastructure is driving mobile broadband coverage expansion. Recent examples include:
In 2016/17, Vodacom invested USD 66 million in providing network capacity for both data and voice. The operator deployed an additional 342 2G and 612 3G sites during the period, while 4G was launched on 278 sites in Dar es Salaam with high-capacity fibre and microwave backhaul to all sites
In November 2017, Airtel announced plans to roll out 3G technology in the 900 MHz frequency band, with the aim of improving the quality and coverage of its mobile data services
In June 2018, Vodacom acquired 700 MHz spectrum and plans to utilise the spectrum to provide 4G data services to a greater number of communities across Tanzania.
In November 2019, Airtel rolled out its 4G network in Tanzania under an eight-month provisional licence. In 2020, Airtel announced that it will pay USD 12 million to the government for its 4G licence and double the number of its 4G network sites across Tanzania.