More Internet services for Western Region Market in Kenya

Internet

A number of telecom companies are expanding into Western Kenya in a bid to capture a market dominated by Telkom Kenya. Africa Online, UUNET and Kenya Data Network are rolling into Kisumu and Eldoret with plans for entering Kitale soon.

Kenneth Kareithi of UUNET last week said the company plans to expand using a strategy based on pricing and product differentiation. However, he said competition will remain stiff for new entrants.

Last week, UUNET launched a Sh5 million communication programme in Kisumu called Tranzeao - Beyond Broadband WiMAX network. It claims the product will make Internet services such as e-mail, voice, data, international calls and videos available to small businesses and home users at a cheaper rate.

The network enables customers to install the Internet on their own, depending on distance from the satellite. Launching the product, Joseph Mwaura of UUNET said new subscribers will get the product at half the price of another one launched in Mombasa and Nairobi.

"The new product will be sold to new subscribers at $300 compared to Redline WiMax which is sold at $600. This way we will attract the smaller business people and even individuals," he said. Currently, users are relying on either VSAT or the Microwave system as a link to the Internet.

AccessKenya, Kenya's largest Corporate Internet Service Provider, is also expanding its national network and has increased its international bandwidth capacity to over 300mb while extending service coverage network to customers in Kisumu, Eldoret and Nakuru.

For its part, Kenya Data Network is fighting it out with Telkom Kenya on the fibre optic cable that links the western part of the country to neighbouring Uganda. The company is also rolling out a cable around Kisumu town. Also in the game is Africa Online which will be expanding its wireless Internet product InfiNET to Kisumu and Eldoret in the next three months.

According to Ken Munyi of Africa Online, InfiNET which offers high speed Internet connectivity was launched three years ago but is only available to users in Nairobi, Mombasa and Nakuru. Munyi said that the company is also working on a number of strategies that would boost Internet usage in the country such as having a flexible pricing model.

He said Africa Online has already come up with a model that enables users to pay for use rather than monthly. "From customer feedback, we realized that some of our clients were not comfortable with the monthly charges ..." he said. According to Munyi, InfiNET is ideal for consumers on the move. Currently the company has 3,000 subscribers.

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