Airtel Kenya CEO Prasanta Das Sarma www.businesstoday.co.ke
Airtel Kenya CEO Prasanta Das Sarma. Airtel is dangling a festive season offer to lure more customers to its fold [Photo/Courtesy]

Airtel Africa has chosen Ericsson to enhance its 4G Coverage in Kenya at a time the telco has constantly been faulted for poor network coverage in urban areas and even worse coverage in rural areas.

With Ericsson’s Radio Access Network (RAN) and packet core products for 4G, Airtel subscribers will experience an enhanced quality of voice and data.

The network modernization deal, signed in August 2020, is in line with the Kenyan Digital Economy Blueprint Vision 2030 which aims to provide robust connectivity in rural areas and facilitate e-commerce platforms.

The modernization deal will drive the simplification and upgrade of the existing network and future-proof it for the anticipated rapid mobile expansion in the country.

With Ericsson Radio System and Packet Core solutions, Airtel Kenya’s network will have 4G coverage, while driving enhanced use cases in both the consumer and the enterprise segments. Ericsson technology shall make the network in Kenya ready for 5G deployment.

In a statement, Airtel Kenya CEO Prasanta Das  Sarma expressed confidence that the deal will ensure that the telco provides “robust and secure communications” which are an essential component of a digital society in Kenya.

“We are firmly anchored to the strategy of delivering reliable connections across the country and are looking forward to expanding the high-quality mobile broadband services to our subscribers,” he said.

Fadi Pharaon, President of Ericsson Middle East and Africa, said his company together with Airtel will implement the project that aims to establish an advanced LTE network in Kenya.

Ericsson will also deploy its Kathrein Mobile Communication Antenna portfolio which will help provide additional enhancement to the network’s robustness whilst Ericsson’s technologically advanced network management system, Ericsson Network Manager will be utilized to support Airtel in managing the network by integrating various network elements on a single platform.

Poor Network

Although Airtel’s subscriber numbers have been growing according to statistics released by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA), the telecommunications company has often been criticized for poor network coverage with critics opining that with better coverage, Airtel would close the gap between itself and market leader Safaricom.

CA third quarter statistics report for the financial year 2019/2020 shows that Airtel gained more subscribers in the three months ended March 2020 by 0.7% to claim 26.6% of the telco market share while Safaricom subscriptions declined marginally by 0.3% to stand at 64.8 percent.

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