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Safaricom eyes huge capital savings with new base stations




Safaricom staff repair a communication mast in Kwale County. The telco has so far rolled out 4G+ network and 4G coverage to all 47 counties. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NMG 

Safaricom #ticker:SCOM is testing new network coverage technology known as Tubestar Base Stations that could help to cut up to three quarters of land area required to erect telecommunication masts.

Tubestar Base Station is a tubular structure intended to replace the current telecommunication towers that require a compound and perimeter wall. The new, compact base stations will see Safaricom save billions of shilling previously spent on land acquisition and erection of security walls. The telco spends upwards of Sh30 billion every year on network expansion.

The new base stations come with inbuilt equipment that also eliminate the need for diesel generators since it uses high-performance lithium batteries, cutting down on carbon emissions from network sites.

The first structure has been installed at Clay Works along the Nairobi Thika Highway, and is set to improve coverage in Roysambu which has in the past been heavily affected by call drops.

“Over the last 18 years, Safaricom has established itself as a global innovation leader through constant and deliberate investment in innovative and ground-breaking technologies. Ultimately, our goal has been to provide our customers with world-class connectivity and networks,” said Safaricom, Chief Technology Officer Thibaud Rerolle.

“The TubeStar base station is the latest such innovation and will enable us meet the emerging demands of Kenya’s fast-paced urban environments,” said Mr Rerolle.

This latest investment adds to the multiple investments that the telco has made over the past three years towards upgrading its network. In the last three years to March 2018, Safaricom has invested over Sh100 billion and plans to spend up to Sh38 billion in the current year to March 2019 on network upgrade.

The telco has so far rolled out 4G+ network, 4G coverage to all 47 counties, and M-Pesa upgrades to a new platform. The firm has also unveiled a Research and Development lab to trigger more innovations.