Airtel Kshs 2bn Network Upgrade Set To Improve Its 3G Data Offering

airtel mast

mobile phoneAirtel Kenya is currently working on a network upgrade within Nairobi and its environs as the firm seeks to position itself as a data first operator in Kenya. The upgrade exercise involves network upgrades and refarming which will improve network coverage, increase capacity and boost user experience.

The network upgrades will involve modernization of its old transmission systems which will thus improve the coverage.  Through the network upgrades, Airtel is set to implement a Single RAN solution that eliminates excess infrastructure implementing modularity.  Airtel has been using legacy systems (out of date or in need of replacement technology) in most of its base stations. The network upgrade has been undertaken in a partnership with Nokia at a cost of 2.5 billion and has been taking place in their base stations around Nairobi.

The network upgrade is set to precede a refarming exercise that will allow for the reallocation of resources from its old legacy networks following the upgrade to modern networks such as 3G. The refarming exercise allows for removal of existing band allocations within the radio spectrum and reallocation of the spectrum into smaller bands.

This then allows for the offering of mobile broadband on different frequencies and is especially critical in the implementation of 3G technologies.  Currently Airtel users are on 2100 band and the refarming means there will be  two layers both in 2100 and 900 mhz allowing for better connectivity and improved throughput. Kenya has a higher penetration of U900 devices  (3G,LTE enabled) which informed Airtel’s refarming decision.

Airtel is also intent on improving network coverage and ultimately internet connectivity near Universities by dedicating a 3G base station in all campuses. Following the exercise, Airtel users are likely to experience difficulties in connecting in some areas with the clean up and upgrade. The exercise in Nairobi is set to complete by the end of May.


  1. This news is like the good music to the ears. All data junkies should probably say an amen to this. I think Airtel shall be the eventual winner in terms of data provision. I heard of the bigbox by safaricom the other day and i was just wondering if my phone wont load twitter during evening hours in my house using safaricom data how will i stream using their BigBox? Shouldn’t they invest on infrastructure first before we hear of endless complaints of the Box? Regardless, Airtel all the way.

    • haha you are clearly an Airtel person but I think the battle going forward shall be won from the quality of service battle line. Anything short of that by the Mobile Networks will be a battle and war lost going forward.

    • A brief reading of Bharti Airtel’s history in doing ‘anthing’ in order to woo subscribers like you into their network will soon inform one’s decision on whether one should jump aboard their network.
      Bharti Airtel has been, on several countries, practically operating at a loss in order to gain more subscribers.

      The problem with this approach is that they forget to align the product to the consumers’ expectations. The final result is consumers ending up with freebies (yes) that download data at a sorry rate of 256Kbps! Surely, at this age?? Are we still on EDGE technology? C’mon!

      I tried the Unliminet thing and was greatly disappointed with the speeds yet I’m in the CBD!!?

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