INTERNET users in Kenya insist that the cost of data is still exorbitant despite the availability of 3 new fibre optic cables; and the news that a fourth cable is set to land in Mombasa is unlikely to be cause for consumer celebration.
Telecommunications service providers disagree with their customers, maintaining that they have reduced their prices in proportion to the increased capacity brought about by TEAMS, SEACOM and EASSy cables.
According to Safaricom’s Chief Operating Officer Peter Arina, prices have come down since the operationalisation of both providers.
“Prices have come down. It’s just that people have not realised that in terms of the offers that we are proposing to the market. They will soon find out that prices have indeed come down dramatically,” said Arina.
He said that the price of one megabit (MB) of bandwidth offered by Safaricom — Kenya’s leading integrated communications provider — at less than a dollar six months ago to those accessing the internet from mobile handsets had dropped as consumers are now getting unlimited daily bundles of 10MB per second.
“10MB at Sh8 tells me it’s now 80 cents (for 1MB/s). For those who are using their laptops, we are selling unlimited 300MB for around US$12 compared to US$38 that we used to sell it at six months ago,” he stated.
“If you don’t call that a price reduction, then I don’t know the meaning of the word,” said Arina.
Recent concerns over internet rates come against the backdrop of a survey commissioned last year and released in early March that showed that high cost and slow speed of connectivity are still major challenges that hinder many users from spending more time online.
According to AccessKenya Managing Director of Internet Services, Chris Senanu, Kenya has the most competitive internet rates in the region.
Local media quoted Senamu as saying: “We have fantastic competition in this market. We are having the GSM players coming into data and other new data players coming in so it puts us on our toes. At the end of the day, it is a very competitive market and what you are going to see going forward are innovative products coming up.”
BRIAN ADERO in Nairobi, Kenya