The battle to launch a 3G network in Kenya is raging between Airtel Kenya and Telkom Kenya’s Orange, with both operators determined to launch their network first.
The announcement by Airtel Kenya that they would unveil their 3G network in September has sent Orange to the drawing board, with the operator working around the clock to launch the service before its rival.
Although Orange’s launch date is still a guarded secret, a source at Orange who did not want to be named because of the secrecy of the matter said: “We are going to give the industry a surprise. We must roll out the 3G before Airtel. I can’t tell you when, but if they (Airtel) are launching in September, that means we are going to do it before that.”
Airtel Kenya managing director Rene Meza said the firm would complete technical and billing tests in Nairobi and Mombasa in the next two months, setting the stage for the launch.
Currently, Safaricom is the only company offering 3G services to its subscribers.
Meza said: “We are all set to launch 3G in September this year and I promise our clients faster and better quality on mobile internet access.”
The Communications Commission of Kenya says Safaricom has recorded the highest number of customers accessing the internet via mobile devices, with the help of its 3G services.
Safaricom remains the dominant player in the telecommunications market with a 92% stake (3,7 million subscribers), followed by Airtel with 4,6% (680 494 subscribers), while Orange has a 2,4% share, equivalent to 82 697 subscribers.