KENYA – Airtel, one of telecommunication players in Kenya has said that it is expanding its 4G network coverage to 40 new towns across Kenya in a bid to offer customers faster internet speeds.

The company, which is in battle against Kenya’s largest network and communications services provider, is eying more towns to expand its market share in the industry.

The targeted towns set to benefit from the new coverage include Kisumu, Nyeri, Meru, Nakuru, Bungoma, Lamu and Garissa.

“Airtel is committed to constantly innovate and improve on the quality of its products and services as an active competitor in the Kenyan market.

As such, we are delighted to be increasing our 4G sites across the country.

The expansion of our network coverage will ensure that majority of the urban population are well covered,” said Airtel Kenya CEO Prasanta Das Sarma.

Airtel, which launched 4G network in May last year, has also signed an agreement with Telkom Kenya to merge their operations, with the new entity expected to operate as Airtel-Telkom.

The deal which is subject to regulatory approvals, is part of the move to rival telecom giant, Safaricom which has by far surpassed the two in terms of market share.

Data from Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) covering three months to September showed Airtel had a market share of 22.3% while Telkom had 9%.

A successful deal could hand them a combined share of 33.3% against Safaricom’s 64.2%.

In an aggressive expansion drive, Airtel has invested in its mobile data offering as well as its network.

Last month, Telkom said it was investing US$10 million (Ksh1 billion) in expansion and optimisation of its 4G and 3G network to improve mobile connectivity and boost quality of service.

The investment was also meant to boost its Fibre-to-the-Building (FTTB) network to improve the quality of service offered to enterprises and corporates.

The firm has also partnered with Google affiliate Loon to launch balloon-powered internet on Telkom’s network by June this year.

The telecom companies are guided by rapid diffusion of mobile technology and the advent of entry-level smart devices in Kenya, seeing increasing demand in broadband.

Data from the Communications Authority for the quarter ending September 30, 2018, shows the country’s mobile subscriptions currently stand at 46.6 million.

The data shows a growth of 2.4% from 45.5 million recorded as at June 30, 2018, earning the country a 100.1 mobile penetration rate, with most users owning more than one SIM card from different service providers.