Kenya: Telcos share cables to reduce outages


Telecommunication service providers have turned to sharing fibre optic capacity to cut down expenses brought about by vandalism. Telkom Kenya Ltd and Jamii Telecommunication Ltd have entered into an agreement to share capacity on their networks between Nairobi and Mombasa while Kenya Data Networks is pursuing a similar deal with Telkom Kenya.

This comes on the background of numerous fibre optic cable cuts in the recent past which has seen some of the providers and business organisations lose a lot of money and accusation of sabotage amongst themselves.

Telkom Kenya for example says that for a single incident of cable cut it spends up Sh500,000 (US$6,200) in repairs and rebates to their clients. Other than costing the providers huge sums of money, the down times also impact negatively on the country’s economy as they affect other businesses.

Joshua Chepkwony, the chief executive of Jamii Telecommunication Limited (JTL) says the agreement will enable the two companies guarantee their clients round the clock up time.

In the deal Jamii Telecommunication will offer Telkom Kenya bandwidth capacity on their fibre over power line from Nairobi to Mombasa while Telkom will offer an equal amount of capacity on its terrestrial fibre.

“Our relationship with JTL specifically enables us to maintain a redundant link particularly along cable cut prone hotspots along the main Nairobi-Mombasa link,” said Angela Ng’ang’a, corporate communication manager, Telkom Kenya.

“Such capacity swapping and trading deals are a common factor in ICT operations given that network resilience is an important element to ensure 99.9 per cent service level provision.”

KDN which has been in talks with Telkom Kenya since 2005 says they are inching closer to signing a deal. Both companies have terrestrial fibre optic networks from Nairobi to Mombasa.

Vincent Wang’ombe, KDN marketing manager, says the agreement will offer both companies redundant routes incase one experiences a cut since they are not on the same lines. “We have been talking to Telkom Kenya but this was slowed down during the privatisation process but has since picked pace with the new management and we are certain of signing a deal soon,” said Wang’ombe. “This will enable us sustain stability on the networks especially on the trunk lines”

Guaranteeing round-the-clock connectivity is one of the major factors clients are looking at before subscribing to any of the networks. This has made the providers to look for alternative ways of achieving this to a scramble on the piece of Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) fibre cable which is considered less prone to vandalism and cuts compared to the underground cables.

Unlike the terrestrial fibre optic cables, the over-the-power-line ones are not prone to vandalism and also eliminates the costs associated with repairs or providing security to the underground cables.

Already, the four big operators, Jamii Telecommunication Ltd, Safaricom Ltd and Wananchi Group and Kenya Data Network (KDN) have taken more than half of KPLC’s capacity and 14 other firms are lined up for the remaining capacity.

Business Daily