Airtel upgrades network ahead of 4G rollout

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Airtel Kenya CEO Mr Adil el Youssefi: His company is upgrading 3G in readiness for 4G

BD: Airtel is upgrading its 3G network as it seeks to improve the quality of its Internet service within buildings in Nairobi and also prepare for the launch of the more superior 4G technology.

The announcement comes barely two weeks after the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) gave the firm and Telkom Kenya regulatory approval to start testing 4G technology on their networks using their current frequency spectrum.

The Nairobi network upgrade is part of Airtel’s Sh2.5 billion project that has so far seen the Mombasa and Kitale networks upgraded.

“The network upgrade in Nairobi has started in order to allow customers to continue accessing uninterrupted quality of service,” said Airtel Kenya CEO Adil el Youssefi.

“The network upgrade also makes Airtel Kenya’s network 4G LTE ready.”

This means that Airtel may become the second mobile firm to launch 4G technology after Safaricom.

The firm told the Business Daily in an earlier interview that its main focus currently is to ensure there is optimal use of the 3G frequencies allocated to them.

Only Safaricom has launched the high-speed wireless data Internet service in the country. Fourth Generation Long Term Evolution or simply 4G LTE supports wireless communication of high-speed data for mobile phones.

Safaricom launched its 4G LTE service last December in some parts of Nairobi and Mombasa island.

It is awaiting extra frequency capacity to increase expand the wireless broadband to other parts of the country.

In addition to voice, a 4G system provides broadband Internet access to laptops with wireless modems and other handheld devices.

The fourth generation wireless Internet access is expected to change the industry’s dynamics as subscribers start to experience and demand high-speed connections.

Telkom Kenya has so far rolled out the 3G network to 41 new urban and peri-urban areas.

The authorisation by the CA meant that two mobile operators can eventually launch the service commercially and increase competition in the data market segment.

Other potential applications are IP telephony, gaming services, high-definition mobile TV, video streaming and conferencing, 3D television and cloud computing.

In November last year, Airtel Africa launched 4G in Seychelles and Rwanda, making the two countries amongst the first in sub-Saharan Africa to commercially deploy the 4G network technology.

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