Airtel bets on upgrades to avoid CA’s quality fine


Mr Prasanta Das Sarma, Airtel Kenya chief executive officer, during a past product promotion. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Airtel Kenya is betting on the recent network upgrade and addition of sites in 20 counties to meet the regulatory minimum threshold on quality of calls across the country.

The telco has in the last seven months upgraded over 600 network sites located in both rural and urban centres and added over 400 new sites, shows the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) report that scored its voice quality lowest after Safaricom and Telkom Kenya.

Airtel Kenya managing director Prasanta Das Sarma says that 270 sites in 12 counties were upgraded from 2G and 3G sites to 4G while more than 400 sites were added in upcountry towns and highways.

“In total, the upgrade covered 20 counties. Some more sites will be added by end of April when the work will be done),” said Mr Sarma.

“We are vindicated when we see more customers using us. With this kind of expansion, we will be able to satisfy CA criteria (on voice quality).”

Some of the locations that benefited from the Airtel upgrade and installation of new sites include Kilifi, Marsabit, Bungoma, Nyeri, Siaya, Kakamega, Nyandarua, Turkana Bomet and Uasin Gishu.


Mr Sarma said the telco had received feedback that many customers viewed it as an urban-centric firm and therefore the expansion sought to rectify this.

The CA had in January disclosed that both Airtel and Telkom Kenya failed to meet the minimum 80 percent threshold on quality of calls across 33 counties in the year ended June 2020.

Airtel scored an average mark of 52 per cent while Telkom Kenya had 73 per cent in the survey conducted last year. Safaricom scored an overall mark of 92 percent in the survey.

Satisfying CA score is critical since telcos breaching requirements on quality of calls and other service outages as a result of omission on their part risk a fine of up to 0.2 per cent of their revenues, which could run into hundreds of millions.