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Competition gets tough as Airtel launches 3.75G platform

BUSINESS
By | February 25th 2012

By Fredrick Obura

Scramble for the growing Internet market has intensified with the Airtel Kenya launch of the fastest Internet platform, 3.75G.

Latest survey by the Communication Commission of Kenya puts Kenya Internet users at a staggering 14 million, a market the mobile telephone operators are eyeing to boost their revenues.

Major industry players for instance Orange and Safaricom have acquired 3G Internet platforms, which offers subscribers faster Internet experience.

Airtel Kenya’s Chief Operating Officer Shivan Bhargava said the launch of its 3.75G platform promises changes to how subscribers will experience the web on Internet-enabled devices.

The firm promises high multimedia functionality, high speed mobile broadband and Internet access allowing users to make video calls, watch live television, send and receive emails and download music.

"We are targeting Nairobi, North Coast, Kisumu, Nakuru, and Eldoret regions, these areas constitute 80 per cent of data business in the country," he said.

He added that the company would in the next nine to 12 months rollout to cover other parts of the country.

Speaking at the launch, Information and Communication Minister Samuel Poghisio hailed the new technology terming it a first in the entire region.

He said it would help the Government meet Vision 2030 obligations, which aim at moving the country from agricultural dependency to a knowledge based economy.

"These new platform has great potential to the youth who have shown interest in technology, it would help them do their business efficiently, we are calling on Airtel to move faster and roll-out the service to rural parts of the country where there is much need," he said.

He called on higher learning institutions to invest in research to produce ready work force to use advanced technologies currently being rolled out in the country.

The ongoing mobile wars among Kenya’s four telecommunication companies has led to decline in revenues from voice, the move has prompted shift in strategy with major players now focusing on data.

In a ceremony attended by President Kibaki late last year, Telkom Kenya (Orange) announced its long-awaited 3G network in Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu, with plans for additional regional deployments as demand for data-related services increases.

The Sh4 billion ($42.6 million) network deployment will offer subscribers theoretical download speeds of 21Mbps, and CEO Mickael Ghossein described it as Kenya’s ‘best-in-class network’.

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