KENYA – Telkom Kenya will increase its 4G network sites by more than four times to 2,590 over the next two years as the telecoms operator prepares to battle other competitors for a larger share of the fast-growing data business.

The firm plans 2,000 new 4G sites at a cost of US$100 million in an upgrade done in partnership with Swedish-based infrastructure provider, Ericsson, and South Africa- based systems integrator NEC XON.

The investment is expected to increase the firm’s internet speed service and propel the firm’s capacity to gain a larger share of the internet business amid increasing competition for mobile data subscriptions in the market by its rivals, Safaricom and Airtel.

The investment will see Telkom raise its network sites from the current 1500 out of which 590 are 4G and will also involve the upgrade of the 910 2G and 3G sites, scaling up 80 percent of its network to 4G to compete with other service providers.

“The customer is also demanding more competitive and comprehensive products that address their different and ever-changing needs like browsing, downloading, streaming, mobile money transactions, reading the news online, and updating their apps; actions that are now very important to everyday life,” said Telkom’s Chief Executive Mugo Kibati.

“The development of new products and solutions but more importantly, the provision of the network needed to access these services is a priority for us at Telkom.”

Telecom operators are aiming to rev up their data business to offset sluggish growth in mobile calls, where they are seeing a small revenue growth due to saturation.

Just like Safaricom and Airtel, Telkom Kenya is betting on data and hopes the increased smartphone usage will boost revenues and push it to profitability.

Telkom Kenya had 4.6 percent market share in mobile data in the quarter ended June according to the latest data by the Communication Authority of Kenya, while Safaricom has 68 percent with Airtel at 26.6 percent.

The investment trials Airtel and Safaricom have already ventured into 5G technology space.

Todd Ashton, VP and MD, Ericsson South and East Africa said that Telkom and Ericsson have a close, collaborative and visionary relationship spanning many years and that their latest collaboration will increase mobile coverage across the country, to provide a seamless data experience to Kenyans.

“In line with Kenya’s Vision 2030, more people will have access to affordable Internet that will enable business continuity for people and enterprises contributing to the economic growth in Kenya and in setting #AfricaInMotion. This is just the beginning, with the LTE expansion setting the foundation to deploy 5G in the future,” he said.

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