Over the past few weeks, the talk in the telecommunications industry has been all about Faiba 4G, a new high-speed wireless network by JTL, a company that is famously known for its wireline internet services in homes and offices.
Faiba 4G is here to offer something unique. The ability to enjoy unlimited on-net phone calls and SMS using mobile data isn’t your usual daily dose, but as always with such cool deals, there are a few catches involved.
For starters, there is the issue of compatibility. Unlike Safaricom and Airtel which work on literally any phone sold in the country, Faiba 4G needs special types of phones. Not special in that they come from Mars or the moon, but they need to support a unique frequency that is still not very common this side of the world. The frequency in question is 700MHz, which is available on band 28. Other networks in the country are compatible with the 800MHz frequency, which is based on band 20.
Make no mistake. Having a smartphone that supports band 28 (700MHz) doesn’t mean you’ll enjoy the full-blown services of Faiba 4G. Having a phone that supports LTE doesn’t automatically qualify you to use Faiba 4G. Instead, these two are simply the basic requirements needed to use the network. On top of supporting the 700MHz frequency and LTE, your phone also needs to support VoLTE, a feature that will enable you take advantage of the free on-net calling service on Faiba 4G on your way to enjoying HD-quality voice calls.
There are a good number of smartphones that support VoLTE. Some of them come with the feature ready for use, for instance, Nokia 8, Nokia 6, Nokia 5 and Nokia 2, but on other phones, the manufacturers have disabled it out of the box. There’s a quick trick you can use to check if your phone supports VoLTE and even turn it on, just in case it was turned off. But in other cases, manufacturers will have to push a software update that will enable VoLTE on compatible devices.
With this in mind, the market has smartphones that are fully compatible with Faiba 4G’s VoLTE and data services while others can only go as far as data services are concerned. For the latter, manufacturers will have to roll out software updates to enable VoLTE, but until then, you can only take advantage of the high-speed 4G LTE internet. If anything, this is what you get with all Tecno and Infinix phones that are currently compatible with Faiba 4G, at least according to Faiba.
All Tecno and Infinix phones that are compatible with Faiba 4G are currently unable to offer VoLTE services. So, if you choose to get a Faiba SIM card, know that there won’t be calls for you. For this to be possible, Tecno and Infinix will have to roll out software updates to these devices and considering their track records when it comes to software updates, this might not happen anytime soon.
Tecno has only three models that support band 28 (700MHz) – Tecno Phantom 8, Camon CX and Camon CX Air. Conspicuously missing is the Tecno Phantom 6 and Phantom 6 Plus from last year, which only manage up to band 20 (800MHz). As for those using Infinix phones, the list isn’t big either, only including the latest Infinix Zero 5 and Zero 5 Pro while leaving out the likes of Infinix Note 4 and Note 4 Pro as well as the budget Infinix Hot 4 Pro. At some point, this list had been published on the official Faiba website, but it has since been taken down. The list included the Tecno K8 and Infinix Zero 4, both of which are not supported. In fact, the Tecno K8 is completely unknown to us (or at least here in Kenya). Perhaps we have a reason Faiba took down the list in favor of the one above.
If you own any of these compatible Tecno and Infinix phones, you are good to go with Faiba 4G, but only for LTE data services. We’ve reached out to Tecno and Infinix to determine if these devices will receive software updates to enable VoLTE services in the near future. Hopefully, they do!