One of three licensed 4G LTE telecom service providers, Surfline Ghana is set to launch commercial service in the whole of Accra next week.
Surfline and two others, Blu Telecom and Goldkey Telecom, got Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) licenses for 4G LTE in June 2013 at US$6million each, and they each had up till November 2014 to go commercial.
The company announced months back that the launch was going to be in the first quarter of 2014, but that did not happen.
But Marketing Director of Surfline, Rosy Fynn told a select group of Telecoms/IT Journalists that the company decided to take a bit more time and build a network that would deliver world class quality of service from the onset.
“During the waiting period we distributed at least 1,000 devices to key people across Accra to use for a couple of months and we got very valuable positive and negative feedback, which helped us to push the limits and deliver what the public wants. Now we believe we are ready to go,” she said.
She noted, for instance, that even though it is essentially a 4G LTE network, it is designed to also boost the data experiences of users of 3G devices like smartphones and tablets, once they get connected to the Surfline network via Wi-fi.
“Even though we are launching a 4G LTE network we do not want to leave 3G smartphone users behind – it is part of our affordability drive and a passion to deal with the many challenges people talk about in their experience with 3G and other data networks in country.”
Rosy Fynn noted that at Surfline they are driven by the ideals of certainty, which is about delivering exactly the quality of service levels they promise; and possibility, which focuses on giving the kind of experience that people thought was not possible in Ghana.
“We are a wholly Ghanaian-owned company and we are proud to bring the world class 4G LTE service to Ghana,” she said.
She said the company would also be churning out its own 4G LTE devices such as dongles, Mi-Fi and Routers plus its own Surfline 4G SIM cards.
The Mi-Fi allows up to 10 devices to connect to the Surfline network and browse, do live streaming, download and or upload at very high practical speeds. The router also allows up to 30 devices to connect to the Surfline network same time.
The company said it would also be churning out 4G tablets, but no 4G phones yet because it is not yet ready to start voice services.
Rosy Fynn believes the US$6million they paid for the 4G LTE license was expensive but worth it, because it gives them the opportunity to solve a lingering problem for Ghanaians.
Nana K. Aduhene is the Head of Planning at Surfline, and he told journalists that theoretically, the speed levels on Surfline’s 4G LTE network is up to 100Mbps but practical speeds have recorded 80Mbps.
A practical check of download speeds on the Surfline network in front of the journalists showed 24.5Mbps, which is way higher than the 2Mbsp to 2.4Mbps that some of the 3.75G networks in the country showed.
Nana Aduhene said the 4G LTE offer 10 micro-second latent (speed at which webpages load during browsing) and it has also gotten rid of jitters (layers and steps a command goes through before the webpage loads) so there is no or very negligible buffering.
“As a result of the absence of the jitters and low latent, you will not experience the kind of challenge you experience with 3G, where your reception signal is full and the data checker reads H+ and yet you have slow speed. This one displays 4G and the quality of service is correspondent to what the checker says.”
He, for instance, noted that live streaming of music on 4G LTE takes only 1sec to buffer, as opposed to 10 seconds on 3G; and live video streaming also takes 1 sec on 4G LTE but takes 25sec on 3G. He also said uploads take 1sec on 4G LTE but 25 sec on 3G.
Touching on the planned commercial launch dubbed the “Wow Campaign”, Surfline Ghana’s Head of Brands Communication, Edwin Amoako said “we chose to call the campaign Wow because for all those who participated in our test run they usually said ‘Wow’ after experiencing the network speed.”
He said the network is set to deliver a service that ensures that even with one reception bar, the experience is far better than a full reception bar on a 3G network.
Edwin Amoako said Surfline has also built its website to be zero rated, which means even without credit on one’s device, “you can still visit our website and purchase air time with your debit or credit card.”
He said the company has also established sales and customers services points in Osu, East Legon and Airport residential area and has spread several sales consultants across the capital to attend to the needs of customers.
Amoako said Surfline has also designed a coverage map, which would soon be uploaded to its website to enable customers check and know what kind of coverage they have at every location they find themselves in.
Meanwhile, one other 4G LTE player, Blu Telecom is currently running tests on it network, while the third one, Godkey Telecom has been virtually silent.