Upending 4G

Airtel Acquires Additional Network Spectrum In Kenya

By  |  July 26, 2022

The Kenyan unit of Bharti Airtel’s Africa operations has paid the sum of USD 40 M for 60MHz of additional spectrum in the 2600MHz threshold. In securing this license from the Communications Authority of Kenya, the operator officially made a move to broaden the scope of its existing 4G network coverage in the country. 

According to an Airtel Africa statement, the license will be valid for the next 15 years, as the telco looks to use the additional capacity to double down on its fixed wireless and mobile data offerings. With this spectrum, Airtel Kenya has invested in the future; it also gives room for the launch of its own 5G services in Kenya, bolstering the East African country’s reputation as a high data consumption market. 

The acquisition comes roughly a month after Airtel Africa paid USD 42 M to the telecommunications authority in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to expand its 4G services in the country. Airtel DRC acquired, for the next 10 years, 58 MHz, which cut across 900, 1800, 2100, and 2600 MHz bands.

While DRC is the provider’s biggest market on the continent, Kenya is one of its key regions given its size, technological strides, and digital potential. 

In the 3 years which ended in December 2021, Airtel Kenya experienced revenue growth of 20.8 percent, a salient indication of the market’s potential and the reason for the player’s seemingly unwavering interest in the Kenyan telecommunications context. 

“This additional spectrum will support our 4G network capacity expansion in the market for both mobile data and fixed wireless home broadband capability, and will allow for future 5G rollout, providing significant capacity to accommodate our continued strong data growth in the country,” says Simon O’Hara, the Group Secretary of Airtel Africa. 

“This investment reflects our continued confidence in the opportunity inherent in the Kenya market, supporting the local communities and economies through furthering digital inclusion and connectivity,” he added. 

Previously, Airtel Africa had reported that its net profit for the year which ended on March 31st went up by more than four-fifths, as a result of revenue bumps. The telco’s turnover increased by 23.3 percent to USD 4.7 B, thanks to its data and mobile money services. Nigeria, East Africa, and Francophone Africa are the main markets fuelling the company’s recent growth streak. 

While Airtel Africa’s biggest competitors in the continent are looking towards rolling out or launching 5G services in the more accessible jurisdictions, like Kenya’s Safaricom and South Africa’s MTN and Vodacom, it remains solely focused on making do with its 4G capacity in the underserved markets. 

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