Airtel ventures into home internet to grow customer base

Airtel Kenya Managing Director Ashish Malhotra

Airtel is poised to compete with existing players in Kenya’s home internet market, which has long been dominated by Safaricom. Their new broadband services specifically cater to users in residential and business settings.

Named the ‘Unlimited Home Broadband’ service, this product is poised to compete with major operators, including Jamii Telecommunications Limited and Zuku, which is owned by the Wananchi Group.

In December of last year, Safaricom held a market share of 36.7 per cent, followed by JTL at 23.7 per cent and Zuku at 19.6 per cent, as reported by the Communications Authority of Kenya.

Airtel’s seeks to provide a portable router which ensures that the internet is not fixed, a change the telco asserts will result in improved and uninterrupted connectivity for consumers.


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“We are pleased to introduce Airtel Kenya’s Unlimited Plans. They signify our commitment to providing unmatched connectivity solutions and embody our vision for individuals and businesses empowered by seamless connectivity,” said Ashish Malhotra, Airtel Kenya’s managing Director.

The 5G-enabled router has been promoted as a potential solution to the slow adoption of super-fast network services. It aims to eliminate the requirement for users to purchase expensive 5G-ready smartphones, which has been a barrier for many.

At present, the majority of 5G-compatible phones fall into the mid to high-end category. These devices include models from Samsung’s Galaxy S and Fold series, as well as 5G devices by Huawei and Oppo, with prices ranging from KSh25,000 to over KSh150,000.

In the middle of last year, Airtel Kenya, the country’s second-largest telco, introduced its 5G mobile broadband network. This move came several months after Safaricom’s in October 2022 launched the same service. Over the past year, Airtel has doubled its 5G coverage, expanding from 372 sites across 16 counties during the initial launch to over 690 sites spanning 39 counties.

Airtel Kenya, formerly known as Kencell (in the year 2000), Celtel (in 2004), and Zain (in 2008), has undergone several transformations. It began its operations in Kenya as Kencell in the year 2000. The company rebranded to Celtel in 2004 after a change in ownership. In 2008, Celtel became Zain Kenya. Zain was acquired by Bharti Airtel. Finally, in October 2010, Zain Kenya rebranded to Airtel Kenya.

By Frank Mugwe

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