Only Safaricom has 4G in Kenya (4G ≠ LTE)

I need to address the confusion that exists in Kenya regarding 4G and LTE. True 4G specifications include a maximum of 1Gb/s downloads and 500Mb/s upload speed on stationary reception and a minimum of 100Mb/s down for mobile devices.

However, when 4G was introduced, its true specifications were a challenge for most telcos to achieve in early 2010s. This issue led to the introduction of LTE. Technically, LTE is inferior to 4G, and it basically means that a telco is working towards true 4G (the reason it means “Long Term Evolution”).

4G LTE-A was later introduced with minimum downloads of 100Mb/s for mobile devices. This is the only revision that can be considered true 4G, and only Safaricom has deployed it in Kenya (In form of 4G+). All other telcos are operating on LTE which is way below true 4G speeds.

However, Safaricom is also a culprit of this confusion by marketing 4G+ as “faster than 4G.” See their description below…

Always know that 4G is always better than LTE and, in many cases, LTE-A (4G+). Don’t be fooled. Now, when is Telkom and Airtel deploying true 4G? Most likely they might deploy 4G (read “4G+”) and 5G at the same time…

Also, is your device ready for true 4G (LTE-A specification)? In kenya you need a device that has LTE-A and supports band 3 and 20 (1800 MHz and 800 MHz) to enjoy Safaricom’s 2CA 4G+.


well,4G or not,i dont really care much…considering most real world applications just need a decent broadband speed of 20Mbps going up i think even with decent coverage,3G HSPA+ still rocks.I dpnt buy into the 5G,4G hype unless we have real world uses where 4G/5G really deliver breakthrough especially on the bandwidth side.

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Am glad you mentioned bandwidth cuz that the whole point of True 4G. To achieve true 4G, telcos are forced to aggregate LTE carrier components. This process is known as carrier aggregation (CA). 3GPP specifies that up to five carrier components can be aggregated for up to 100MHz network bandwidth, which is not possible in non-aggregated LTE.

Aggregation can be intraband (contiguous components) or interband (non-contiguous like Safaricom’ band 3 and 20). Currently, Safaricom’s carrier component aggregation increases its network bandwidth to 40MHz.

Aggregation increases bandwidth and deals with congestion, a common occurrence in LTE networks. So, you should be worried about LTE if you care about bandwidth and network congestion.

My question is since 4G+ speeds require carrier aggregation (making use of two or more LTE bands for faster speeda) will networks like airtel and telkom ever get 4G+ beacuse they only use band 20 at the moment

There are two types of aggregation: Intraband and Interband. Intraband involves aggregating carrier components from the same band. However, the reason Airtel and Telkom will have get license for another band to incorporate LTE-A is because band 20 carrier components can’t be aggregated. That’s why Safaricom uses CA_3A-20A (B3+B20) interband non-contiguous.

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honestly i tried to explain this on this forum a while ago some guy called roboto couldnt even let me finish a sentence

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The problem is that Safaricom 3G is really slow. I average around 80kb/s. On 4G this jumps to 700Kb/s. I think good 3G is good but when you are sharing the internet with other users then on 3G they dip very quickly. On speed tests the 3G safaricom speed where I live is 3MBPS & 40MBPS for 4G. These are however theoritical and never apply in real world usage.

I use 3G because I bought a Xiaomi phone that doesnt support the 4G bands.

I have been using 4G+ for a while now and the service has deteriorated over time. From 60+mbps to like 15mbps. I mean, Telkom 4G is much better.

I remember when AT&T was being dissed about 5GE, meeen the kind of speeds people out here experience in 4G shows that the technology is underutilized here in Kenya.

I’ve just pulled up MKBHD’s post to see the 4G/4G+ speeds people were posting. Like, tutafika huku lini?

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True, what we get as 4G+ should be what 3G supports comfortably.

@deewinc @Mobkay, Safaricom’s implementation might also be limited by the quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) of their aggregation.

Their LTE-A, in my opinion, might be using 64QAM rather the 256QAM that can accomodate more data. Hence it “fills up” quickly depending on the number of people connected to a particular BS. Also, a device’s MIMO antennas might limit LTE-A depending on their implementation by the OEM. Aggregating 3 bands or more would have been better to avoid overcrowding.

AT&T’s 5GE uses 256QAM that is even better than LTE-A, its known as LTE-A pro, and its going to be used widely as a fallback mechanism for 5G.

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Hopefully, networks can maximize on all options they have for 4G as opposed to rushing towards 5G that has range and obstacle penetration issues.


Speaking of which, there’s LTE Cat 20 :astonished::astonished::astonished::muscle::muscle::muscle:

The future looks bright… Devices are ready. Telcos are not. The future will be characterized by true 4G rather than 5G. Safcom should at least aggregate B3+B3+B20 for 60 MHz aggregated bandwidth (LTE-A Pro). Or CA should just auction B40

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Kabisa. Focus should be on maximizing on 4G, which might be cheaper than adopting 5G.

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FYI, this is a screenshot from MTN Rwanda LTE.


Where did you take this from (location), was pathetic when I tried it.

Also, someone is testing out 5G. Trials tu.

safaricom 4G has really become trash these days, what’s happening to their network

Probably Congestion… Have mainly had issues with Call Quality…