Airtel Sierra Leone, part of India's Bharti Airtel, is delivering services such as YouTube video streaming, mobile broadband and video calling to mobile customers following the launch of its HSPA+ network in major cities.
The third generation (3G) service, which offers maximum speeds of 1.4Mbps downlink and 5.7Mbps uplink, is currently available in Freetown, Makeni, Bo, Koidu, Kenema and Waterloo. Plans are afoot to soon double the amount of 3G base stations serving the cities to 40.
The mobile telecommunications company launched its services via a GSM network in April 2000, but was then known as Celtel Sierra Leone. In 2008 it became known as Zain, after it was acquired by the Kuwait-based telco. Then, at the end of 2010, it morphed into its present incarnation after Bharti Airtel took over Zain's African operations.
Airtel is thought to be the country's third largest mobile operator in terms of subscriber numbers (with an estimated 644,000 at the end of September 2011), behind Lintel Sierra Leone (Africell) and Comium Sierra Leone. Africell launched Sierra Leone's first 3G network in August 2011.