The 3G+ technology appears to be modestly but convincingly making in-roads in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a place where steady, consistent internet connection remains a rare commodity.
Industry watchers believe the technology has taken the country’s mobile internet to greater heights, as consumers seize the day to create social affinities and improve their relationship with the gods of the Web.
Vodacom, which launched the first 3G experience in August 2012 in this Central African nation of 80 million people, said 3G+ seems to be improving people’s professional experience as they access their emails, database and attached files in a fast and adequate manner at affordable rates.
A Moon of the South investigation found that many consumers do not want anything to do with devices that are not 3G+ enabled. “I want to replace my phone, but I’m only looking for a 3G+ phone and all these shops have run out of stock,” Marie-France Mayele said in the capital Kinshasa.
“We are waiting for a new stock. Many people seem to like the 3G+ phones a lot these days,” shop assistant Maguy Mbongo said.
Vodacom says the 3G+ is a technological revolution in the sense that it allows the transmission and download of a huge volume of files compared to GSM and EDGE.
As the technology gains ground in the DRC and criss-crosses cities and villages, the competition gets fierce, forcing Vodacom and Orange to spend thousands of US dollars in street advertising (billboards and huge walls) to each claim that it is the best 3G+ internet provider in the DRC.
Vodacom claims that its 3G+ network gives subscribers access to social networks thanks to a super-fast internet connection, mobile TV, fast video downloading and video calls (Visionphonie), among others.
So far, 3G+ is available in almost all the DRC’s 11 provinces, including in the cities of Lubumbashi, Matadi, Muanda, Goma, Mbuji-Mayi and Kasumbalesa, according to the Vodacom’s national coverage map.