Kenya: Telkom to Launch Internet Enabled Pay Phones

Technology & Convergence

Kenya's national telecommunications provider, Telkom Kenya, has decided to beat the irritating underground copper cable vandals at their own game.

The company announced last week it will launch internet enabled payphones powered by the CDMA wireless technology, in a bid to phase out the current telephone booths, which rely on fixed copper lines. The existing booths have been criticized as outdated and inefficient owing to frequent breakdowns that have seen the firm lose billions in profits. Looting and vandalism of the cables connecting the booths has also been a major issue. This is expected to go with the introduction of full time wireless CDMA technology.

Telkom officials also said the company will continue to offer mobile service through the CDMA technology as opposed to the GSM technology. The two mobile service providers Safaricom and Celtel had threatened to go to court to block Telkom from offering GSM services attributing their arguments to unfair competition.

In the initial plans of the roll out of the internet enabled payphones due to start next year, Telkom Kenya will target schools, shopping malls, restaurants , super markets and big corporations. Trails for the new facilities will kick off next month before the company embarks on an aggressive launch and publicity project. Telkom Kenya has in the recent days embarked on investment in more state of the art and modern day communication technology. This has been widely seen as effort to remain afloat in the critically competitive telecommunication industry in Kenya and the region.

(East African Business Week (Kampala), 5 November 2007)