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Telkom, Airtel Boost Their 4G Networks in Kenya

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Safaricom may be the clear mobile leader in Kenya, with a market share of about 67%, but it can't afford to get complacent.

Its main rivals, Airtel and Telkom -- with market shares of 19.7% and 8.6% respectively at the end of March this year -- are both currently pumping cash into their 4G networks to help expand their coverage and improve performance.

Airtel, which launched its 4G service a few months ago, is now expanding its LTE network beyond Nairobi and Mombasa, reports Business Daily. (See Airtel Kenya Joins the 4G Club.)

Telkom, meanwhile, has added 200 new 4G sites in and around Nairobi to densify its LTE coverage and "to cater for the growing demand on data." It launched its first 4G services last year and the new additions bring the number of 4G sites in Telkom's Nairobi network to 300.

"Over the last year, since we launched our 4G network, we have recorded a steady rise in its uptake, accounting for 20% of the total data traffic in Nairobi. With the new sites going live, we expect continual growth, driven by current users and new users joining our network," stated the operator's Chief Technology and Information Officer (CTIO), John Barorot, in a company statement.

Telkom Kenya CTIO John Barorot.
Telkom Kenya CTIO John Barorot.

"Current market trends have seen the rise in 4G compatible and smartphone use in the country," he continued. "Add this to the fact that all our new SIMs are 4G enabled and we have an opportunity to monetise mobile data, based on market demands, while enriching customer experience."

The move is part of broader network improvements. (See Telkom Kenya Lines Up $40M Loan for Network Upgrade.)

"Our long-term goal is to build a holistic network. Even as we roll out our 4G network, we are also increasing our current capacity on our 3G network while also leveraging on existing network elements to improve user experience. A substantial proportion of our total data traffic is on 3G, which makes it a pivotal growth engine for the business," stated the CTIO.

Telkom says it has invested more than KSh8 Billion (US$79.4 million) in network expansion and infrastructure rollout in the past two years, in addition to strategic investment in three undersea cables connecting Kenya to other parts of Africa and the rest of the world and more than 7,300 kms of fiber countrywide.

— The staff, Connecting Africa

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