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Safaricom, Google in Internet partnership

Safaricom Kenya and Google have sealed a pact to deliver e-mail services direct to mobile phones. The partnership is expected to increase the number of internet users from the current 2.7 million to 4.4 million by virtue of Safaricom's subscriber base.
Under the deal signed recently, Safaricom subscribers with data enabled handsets will now access email services from Google on their mobile phones, toll-free. The partnership follows the unveiling of Safaricom's third generation (3G) licence to be made available to subscribers soon.

3G networks carry data, voice and video services.

According to Safaricom's CEO Michael Joseph, "The new deal would enable users to access email and internet services wherever there is network coverage."

Under the new deal, Safaricom would also launch a local version of Google Maps for mobile phones, which will offer subscribers in selected areas user-friendly maps and local listings, as well as search and navigation capabilities.

However, subscribers whose handsets cannot support the new service can access email services by logging on to Safaricom's website and enjoy the facilities for free.

On his part, Google's director of strategy and business operations Matthew Stepka said the deal was timely, adding that Google is always ready to support like-minded firms such as Safaricom.

Stepka told journalists that the service would benefit mainly small and medium enterprises, most of whom cannot access email and internet services. Other beneficiaries include students in learning institutions, working Kenyans and the general public.

It is envisaged that each subscriber would have their own personalised email address that has the mobile number as the user name followed by @safaricom.com.

As agreed in the deal, Safaricom would also use Google's Apps technology that would enable each subscriber with over 4.8 gigabytes of storage, search capabilities and email products.

The much touted 3G network will offer subscribers access to high speed data communication and also allow them to access video and television services via mobile phones.

Joseph said that subscribers would be charged normal data usage costs.

Published courtesy of

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