Airtel to Roll out 4G network

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Airtel Kenya will begin its test for the 4G network as from next week. According to the company, the test will roll out in Nairobi with over 40 sites in the capital. This will later be expanded to other locations across major towns in the country with Mombasa and Kisumu going first.

Airtel will be the second company to roll the 4G network in Kenya after Safaricom rolled out the network in October 2016 after extensive trials. Safaricom already has its 4G network in major towns like Nakuru, Eldoret, Kisumu, Meru, Kisii, Mombasa and Nairobi. Airtel Kenya under Airtel Africa has faced hurdles in penetrating the African Market and is on a path to recreate itself and turn in profits for Bharti India-the parent company. Airtel will have to get a license for the 4G spectrum from the Communication Authority of Kenya (CA) at a cost of Sh2.5 billion before going commercial.

The 4G network enables telecommunications companies to provide high-speed mobile internet to those on the network. The network is 5 times faster than the 3G network. In theory, the network can provide speeds up to 100Mbps. The network works by splitting up the data into small chunks and transferring the chunks in parallel frequencies. This increases the capacity of the network thus provide super-speeds that enable seamless streaming and fast uploads and downloads.

Customers will have to purchase 4G enabled Phones and switch to 4G enabled SIM-cards to enjoy accessibility to the network. The roll out of the 4G will however not make the other devices useless as users will still have access to the 3G and 2G network.

The communication Authority issued both Safaricom and Airtel with a trial spectrum for the 4G network in 2015 thus limiting the roll out to specific geographical areas. Airtel is looking to keep its grip on the data market with the roll-out of the high-speed internet. Data is one of the best performing services of the company.

Airtel has reinforced its commitment to competing in the Kenyan market. This will be achieved by further investment in the 4G network roll out and the continued expansion of the Airtel network.

The launch has also come at a time when major top content providers like Netflix, Amazon, and Show-max are expected to drive heavy data usage. Safaricom is on a major investment drive with plans to build more than 500 4G  base stations. At a cost of Sh 33 billion.

In a bid to streamline operations in the company, Airtel retrenched about 100 employees early in the year. The operator termed the move as “strategic organizational restructuring to improve efficiency across functions with an aim to enhance customer experience”.

Airtel has seen an improvement in its share price by a maximum of 17.5% with a growth in subscriber base by 178,840 putting the company at 6.7 million subscribers, approximately 18% of the market share.

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Melissa Daniels
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