Airtel Kenya, KDN partner over 3G rollout

An Airtel shop in Nairobi. Photo/WILLIAM OERI

Airtel Kenya has partnered with infrastructure provider, Kenya Data Networks (KDN) to upgrade its transmission network in readiness for the launch of its third generation (3G) network in April, raising the stakes in the battle for the Internet market.

The firm’s low cost strategy targets the mass market, with the planned network set to offer high speed mobile internet access, mobile video conferencing and videophone, among other services which it cannot provide with its 2.5G system.

Under the five year partnership, KDN will inter-link Airtel sites through its countrywide fibre optic network.

“The service will lead to increased mobile internet speeds for Airtel mobile consumers. Both corporate and personal consumers will benefit from the increased speed and coverage,” Airtel Kenya managing director Mr Rene Meza, said on Monday at the official contract signing ceremony in Nairobi.

This, Mr Meza said will allow customers to enjoy more multimedia applications and experience enhanced operation of existing applications, including real-time video conferencing.

They will also download videos, images and music faster; besides accessing email, games and performing financial transactions faster.

Airtel has partnered with IBM, Nokia Siemens and Ericsson in the roll out of the 3G network and is planning to spend Sh20 billion ($250 million) to expand its network across the country.

Market leader, Safaricom is the only firm presently providing commercial third generation network services and is trying out a more superior version known as LTE.

This has given the operator a head start over its rivals. Telkom Kenya also targets the end of this quarter to rollout the services.

KDN, part of South African technology firm - Allied Technologies Ltd will connect Airtel’s more than 500 base stations to the fibre optic cables for it to offer 3G services, as data slowly become the panacea for growth in the telecoms industry as the voice segment matures.

The firm’s chief executive officer Mr Rikus Matthyser said, “We take pride in the fact that our services positively impact the day-to-day operations of our clients and we remain committed to providing quality services through partnerships such as the one with Airtel.”

“Broadband is a catalyst for economic growth and development. This will drive mobile penetration and accelerate the Internet and email access in Kenya in line with the government goals in Vision 2030,” the Airtel boss said.

Telecommunication companies are focusing on the data business to boost their revenues as the competition in the voice segment gets stiffer and a reduced Average Revenue per User ARPU, due to the lowering of tariffs by the operators.

Local tariffs have halved as players race to grow and defend their market shares, with the price war shaping up as the biggest threat to the industry’s earnings.

The cost of voice calls fell by 50 per cent in August to three shillings a minute.

KDN is a carrier-of-carriers telecommunications operator with 6500 kilometres of fibre and radio infrastructure throughout East Africa.

The firm is one of the top contenders for data infrastructure market in Kenya, with a nationwide fibre optic network.

Others are Telkom Kenya, and Jamii Telkom.


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