Wananchi 'triple-play' fibre service finally goes live; one million homes in East Africa targeted by 2015

Internet

Kenyan telco Wananchi Group, which offers services under its Zuku brand, has announced that its long-awaited 'triple-play' fibre package has gone live in the cities of Kileleshwa, Kilimani, Lavington and Hurligham. Wananchi first announced that it would launch triple-play TV, telephony and broadband internet services over a hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) network in October 2008. Despite referring to itself as ‘Africa's pioneering provider of triple-play’ ever since, the voice telephony service never actually materialised, with Zuku only offering WiMAX broadband and cable TV using the infrastructure of a company formerly known as Mitsuminet Cablevision. Phase two of the triple-play project will focus on the areas of South B and South C, Westlands and Parklands, and will be completed by 1H 11. The remainder of Nairobi and Mombasa are scheduled to be completed during the second half of 2011. Tanzania and Uganda have been mooted for subsequent connectivity. Wananchi intends to pass one million homes in East Africa by 2015.

According to managing director Pete Reinartz, Zuku will now offer unmatched download speeds ranging from 1Mbps to 8Mbps for residential customers, and speeds of 8Mbps to 20Mbps for business customers. Wananchi has also invested in cable channels such as Zuku Sports and Zuku Sports HD, the latter of which represents the region's first HD sport channel, as well as eight movie channels, including Zuku Movies Max and Zuku Movies Max HD. To date Wananchi has invested over USD100 million in its fibre rollout. The company says that its existing infrastructure currently provides 100 cable TV channels to around 12,000 customers in Nairobi and Mombasa, and WiMAX broadband connectivity to approximately 9,000 customers in Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru, Nyeri and Eldoret.

Reinartz commented: 'The explosive pace of cable, wireless and broadband growth in East Africa offers tremendous opportunities for investors in the telecom and tech sectors. There is also phenomenal growth of pay-TV in emerging and mature markets despite the advent of 'new media' on the internet. Global pay-TV penetration ranges from 20% to 80%, while in Africa the penetration is still less than 0.1%. This disconnect is where we see a great opportunity. Our customers will now enjoy unmatched upload speeds and download speeds with unlimited use at fixed tariffs per month, with guaranteed speeds and superb quality due to fixed network technology not influenced by weather or other conditions'.