Airtel Kenya has signed a five-year deal with broadband provider Kenya Data Networks (KDN) to utilise its fibre-optic network for backhaul ahead of the launch of its 3G network. Under the terms of the partnership, KDN will connect Airtel’s 500 mobile base stations using its 6,500km countrywide fibre optic network. KDN CEO Rikus Matthyser commented: ‘We take pride in the fact that our services positively impact the day-to-day operations of our clients and we remain committed to providing quality services through partnerships such as the one with Airtel. Broadband is a catalyst for economic growth and development. This will drive mobile penetration and accelerate internet and email access in Kenya in line with the government goals in Vision 2030’.
Airtel secured a 3G licence for USD10 million in June 2010, after the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) cut the price from USD25 million earlier that month, in order to encourage take-up. Airtel has partnered with IBM, Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) and Ericsson as it works towards its imminent 3G network launch, and plans to spend USD250 million in the next 18 months to expand its network across the country. Rene Meza, managing director of Airtel Kenya, commented: ‘The service will lead to increased mobile internet speeds for Airtel mobile consumers. Both corporate and personal consumers will benefit from the increased speed and coverage’. Meza continued: ‘We are going to replicate our low cost strategy which is proving successful in voice on our data when we roll out the 3G network’. In January Meza indicated that the cellco’s 3G network was scheduled to launch before the end of 1Q11.
In September 2010 KDN announced that it will focus on the wholesale market rather than dividing its attentions between that and the country’s emergent retail market. According to reports, following the realignment of its services KDN has started to migrate its existing retail customer base to its sister company, Swift Global Kenya. KDN claimed that the move was necessitated by the need to differentiate the company’s services from those offered by standard ISPs.