KDN rolls out second redundant route from Nairobi to Mombasa to combat vandalism

Kenya Data Networks, the internet infrastructure provider, is laying a 700-kilometre fibre optic cable from Thika to Mombasa to act as a redundancy path to its cable. This will check the downtime that is costing it and its clients millions of shillings.

Work on the redundancy path that started in mid October is expected to be completed next March, with the cable passing through Garissa, Hola and Mtwapa in Mombasa. The move to provide an alternative route to the one that links Nairobi to Mombasa through Voi follows rising incidence of cable vandalisms.

Vandalism could also force a policy rethink on dedicated paths and encourage shared backbone, saving the country billions in resource duplication, equipment replacement costs and lost business opportunities during network outages.

Telecoms rivals have been trading claims of sabotage, but the government now appears resigned to taking a proposal by telecoms regulator, Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK), to share network facilities, with the operators swapping capacity to curb sabotage.

Adam Noor, the project manager at Soliton Telmec, the company that KDN has outsourced to lay out the cable, says the alternative route will enable KDN to reroute all its traffic in either of the cables when there is a problem. "A redundant route will ensure that KDN clients get quality services and remain uptime, thus reducing the losses associated with such occurrences," said Noor.

Apart from human activity such as road construction which sometimes damages the cables, claims of sabotage have lately been rampant. Having one route means that the companies have either the option of rerouting its traffic to satellite connectivity which is costly or remain down and charge the client the penalty for business loss during that period.

But the laying of the cable has not been smooth sailing in northern parts of the country, like in Bangela where resident have threatened to uproot the cable. Rashid Aden, a Soliton Telmec official who is overseeing the laying of the cable between Mwingi and Garissa says the local community did not understand the benefits of the cable and were opposed to its passing in the area.

As a result the company had to involve civic leaders and the chief who convinced the residents of the project's benefits. "We had to involve the locals in the project by giving some of then work as security officers to guard the temporary stores and also to act as store men," said Mr Aden.

People employed to dig trenches manually are paid between Sh3,000 and Sh10,000 a week depending on the length of the trench. Organisations based in the areas that the fibre optic cable pass through will also benefit from its connectivity. Depending on the terrain, the company uses either machine or manual labour to dig the trenches. While it costs roughly Sh40,000 to do three kilometers using manual labour, it costs slightly above Sh10, 000 to do the same distance.

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