INTERNET

Access Kenya Introduces High-Speed Home Internet

Access Kenya has introduced a retail broadband product dubbed Access@home and the service is being marketed to domestic users as a new addition to the company's already existing product for corporate clients.

"This is a lifestyle product that will also prove invaluable for those doing online learning, e-commerce, shopping or watching movies or sports at home," says Jonathan Somen, group managing director of Access Kenya.

The new product was developed following months of research on the emerging requirements of people in the middle and upper-income groups, which all pointed to the need for a better Internet connectivity.

Somen said the main concern was high-speed connectivity that was reliable and did not fluctuate due to rising numbers logged on at a specific time. Ordinarily, logging on at most existing services takes several minutes, depending on the time of day and location. In Nairobi, for example, Fridays are particularly bad, as connection failure is a common problem.

The company went shopping for the appropriate equipment and concept and settled for the Alvarion Wimax, which has posted an impressive track record in Namibia Telkom, South Africa Telkom and MTN Uganda. The company is deploying 35 base stations in Nairobi and Mombasa, making the largest WiMAX network in the two cities in Kenya as part of a grand strategy to develop the biggest broadband base of subscribers in the country. It is investing $3.5 million for the project, expected to roll out within a month.

The focus of the Home Internet service labelled “Access@Home” will be residential areas in Nairobi and Mombasa, where the highest concentration of Internet users is found, and will then look at other major urban centres.

It is unclear if the current price offers to its existing corporate customers will apply across the board but it shades some light on how much the service might cost to the end users. The Access@Home broadband service offers the equipment free of charge but has an one off installation fee of Kshs.8,500/- plus VAT (US$144 inclusive of 16% VAT). Although access to the service is unlimited, the monthly fee varies according to the upload and download package the customers will choose. The “Premium Option” is at Kshs.6,000/- plus VAT (US$101 inclusive of 16% VAT) and offers the following guaranteed speeds: all Day (7am – 6pm): 32kbps Uplink, 32kbps Downlink & All Night: 64kbps Uplink, 256kbps Downlink & All Weekends (1pm onwards – rest of the weekend): 64kbps Uplink, 256kbps Downlink.

The “Value Option” is at Kshs.4,000/- plus VAT (US$68 inclusive of 16% VAT). It is more affordable but the guaranteed speeds are lower too: all Day (7am – 6pm): 32kbps Uplink, 32kbps Downlink & All Night: 64kbps Uplink, 128kbps Downlink & All Weekends (1pm onwards – rest of the weekend): 64kbps Uplink, 128kbps Downlink.

The Access@Home broadband service comes as alternate offer to Telkom Kenya’s Jambo ADSL. A 256kbps connection is currently prices at Kshs.5,990 (US$87) per month and comes with Orange’s Livebox. When it comes to the world of online entertainment on offer, the Livebox might provide more choices in the long run. And there is also Safaricom, which has launched mobile internet of HSPDA at prices as low as Sh1,999 (US$30.55) per month and runs up to Sh10,000 (US$152.80) per month.

The East African & Balancing Act

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