Airtel takes 4G beyond Nairobi, Mombasa


Airtel CEO Prasanta Das Sarma (centre) and models at the launch of the new tariff in Nairobi August 8, 2018. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG

Airtel Kenya plans to expand high-speed 4G network outside Nairobi and Mombasa to capitalise on burgeoning mobile Internet use and grow its customer base.

The network investments is part of the strategy that saw the firm this month cut its call rate to all other networks by 50 per cent to Sh2 a minute to grow and defend its subscriber base. Safaricom charges Sh4 a minute.

Airtel paid $25 million (Sh2.52 billion) for the spectrum and would roll out the 4G service to major urban centres in coming months.

Chief executive Prasanta Das Sarma said the telco had covered Nairobi and Mombasa by May with 4G, which is part of a central part of its attempts to further expand its data business.

“This is the most opportune time to expand 4G spectrum because more and more handsets coming into the country are 4G-enabled,” he said.

“Data is something which is growing and will continue to grow, but we still have a lot to expect from voice.”

Kenya had more than 44.1 million mobile subscribers in the quarter ended March with mobile data subscriptions of 36.1 million, representing 81.8 per cent of the subscriptions.

The new investments come in a period when Airtel has witnessed the fastest growth in subscribers compared to rivals Safaricom and Telkom Kenya.

Data from the regulator showed Airtel had increased its users by more than 2.4 million in the year to March pushing its customers to 8.7 million or quarter of last year.