For close to two years now, we’ve heard rumours of Airtel Kenya testing their 4G network but it has always remained that, rumours, up until around April of 2017 when members of the public started getting Airtel 4G signal on their smartphones when doing Manual network searches.
The first substantial Airtel 4G report we got from our forums user, kiharajon, who cited that a network search in Nyali Mombasa had returned an Airtel 4G signal alongside Safaricom and then Orange.
A network search in Nyali is now showing 4G on Safaricom, Airtel and Orange, I heard there are a few guys on orange and airtel testing the network, I am on orange 3G which is really fast so 4G hopefully will be faster than safaricom and cheaper, orange 3g has been shitty for the last 3 weeks going off for up to 15 minutes at a time, also lots of surf Facebook wifi all over Mombasa, has anyone used it?
A month later, another Forum user, iamtembo, alerted us that he had gotten Airtel 4G signal in Rongai:
Update: So i finally got the Airtel Kenya 4G signal yesterday in Rongai. Was kinda disappointed to know that although my SIM is the precut type, down to Nano-SIM size, i still have to go get it replaced in order to connect to Airtel 4G coz apparently it aint 4G enabled. Airtel on Twitter say the same thing Orange said at first, to wait until they officially launch their 4G, so guess i have no choice, for now
And another report of Airtel 4G signal along Ngong road from Peter_Ngure:
I have seen the Airtel 4G signal near Lenana and and along most of Ngong road up to Ngong because it’s my commute route. I’m sure it’s in a lot more places. Right now you can only see it by manually searching for networks (the phone must be set to detect 4G networks so in the network settings put it on 4G preferred.) The network is there but you can’t use it since it’s not officially launched and they’re not yet giving out 4G SIM card’s. I think it’s only a matter of weeks.
Since then, we have received numerous reports on Airtel 4G’s signal across various parts of the country. It was getting clearer that Airtel was gearing up to launch their 4G network even more so when the company applied to extend their 4G Trial license back in October 2017.
Things got clearer after the Kenya High Court ruled that the telco did not have to pay the Communications Authority of Kenya Ksh.2.06 Billion that the authority demanded from Airtel as fees for renewal of their operating license.
New reports of the telcos 4G network have now emerged and thanks to iamtembo, we have more details regarding the network than ever before.
So I was at Airtel Kenya Koinange street shop earlier on buying a kabambe and while chitchatting with the attendant I asked her when their 4G will be launching. Her response was that the network is already there n the SIM cards too, just that they haven’t launched it officially. I had to ask her to clarify on the SIM cards part since we’ve already been seeing Airtel 4G on network searches and there was even a guy here on the forums who previously was seeking a SIM card at the same shop only to later realize it wasn’t a 4G SIM.
The lady insisted that they have 4G SIMs, n so i went ahead and did a SIM swap.
Bang! Airtel LTE
I did the attached speedtest…
Signal sttength in the CBD is superb btw, am posting while at the Railways bus sttion n am having full 5 bars
Mr Tembo then shared screenshots to prove that indeed he was accessing Airtel Kenya’s 4G network branded as Airtel KE LTE:
This was followed by screenshots of speed tests that he had done within CBD:
After receiving such overwhelming evidence, we reached out to Airtel Kenya, enquiring about the existence of their 4G network and this is what Airtel had to say:
We constantly endeavour to improve the quality of products and services that we offer and as such we are continuing to upgrade our 3G capacity and coverage. We believe that this will significantly improve our footprint and result in better internet coverage and services. The roll out of 4G sites and infrastructure is ongoing and we intend to conduct the official launch soon.
According to the company, the 4G network is not yet launched, however, we should be expecting it soon. At least we have confirmation that the network does exist, all that’s left is for Airtel Kenya to officially take the wraps off it.