TECHNOLOGY & CONVERGENCE

Telecoms operators shift Focus to Internet As Demand Grows in Kenya

Kenya's mobile providers are moving to strengthen their Internet offerings in response to growing demand for services over the last quarter. Zain Kenya has announced a 25 per cent cost reduction for the unlimited Internet package in a move aimed at growing its market share in the increasingly competitive data business, while its rivals Telkom Kenya and Safaricom announced the launch of online portals geared at driving more subscribers to use data services.

In a statement, Zain Kenya managing director Rene Meza said the company was now focusing on growing the data business by ensuring widespread access to the internet.

"Reliable and affordable Internet will spur growth in key sectors of the economy and also create new areas of entrepreneurship, similar to those that have been created through the introduction of mobile telephony in Kenya," said Meza.

Following Zain's reduction, customers who sign up for the service will now enjoy unlimited Internet for Sh2,995 per month down from Sh3,999 and will also receive a free USB modem.

In addition, customers who subscribe to the service which is only accessible to post-paid users, will now pay a deposit of Sh5,000 down from Sh10,000, however they will be required to sign up for a minimum of 12 months to enjoy the unlimited Internet access.

On its part, Telkom Kenya became the second mobile operator to launch an online portal after its competitor Safaricom officially launched its version last week.

Telkom's Orange World is an online gateway offering subscribers news, sports, games, listings, travel information and entertainment while on the move, and signals the company's desire to tap into the growing numbers of Kenyan consumers who access the web using their mobiles.

"This will probably even be the next must-have playground accessory. Our service will be affordable and phone handset prices will probably experience a substantial price drop in the next few months," said Jean-Michel Chanut, head of marketing and Strategy at Telkom Kenya.

Last week, Safaricom launched its portal (www.safaricom.com) hoping to provide free content for its over 1.6 million subscribers who access the Internet using their phones.

Telkom Kenya will allow subscribers to its mobile service one month's free access after which it plans to charge for access to news, entertainment and information channels.

Chanut said he believed that sales of WAP-enabled, or Internet-enabled mobile phone handsets would usurp current handsets as must-have gadgets in coming months.

Business Daily

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