UUNET Kenya is set to set up an internet backbone service that can carry multimedia traffic on their network in two months time. The firm's Managing Director, Henry Kimani, says the company plans are at an advanced stage.

He said the deal was mooted after the September 9 strategy released by the Communication Commission of Kenya to acknowledge the end of a monopoly by Telkom Kenya.It aims at making the internet sub sector fully liberalised.

He said UUNET would utilise existing Internet Protocol (IP) infrastructure to converge traditional voice and data applications onto a unified communications platform.

"The acceleration of convergence between telecommunications, broadcasting, multimedia and other information and communication technologies has firmly taken root in the developed world, and is rapidly opening up new ways of conducting business and commerce, and Africa has the opportunity to leapfrog international developments," he continued.

He added that UUNET Kenya has invested in a countrywide IP network, backed by its international connectivity via UUSAT and Telkom Kenya's Jambonet to the rest of the world.

This implementation allows UUNET Kenya to offer customers converged IP solutions and today the company is able to advise and assist customers in implementing IP solutions such as IP telephony and video conferencing.

He said that currently only about 0.1 per cent of corporates are in a position to fully effect the use of video conferencing facility such as the World Bank, the US Embassy among others.

According to Peter Mwondi of UUNET "the two of the most prominent and effective solutions to ensure increased operational efficiencies through convergence in Kenya is IP Telephony and Video Conferencing, as the technology utilises a single network infrastructure for the transmission of data, intra corporate voice and video traffic.

This technology delivers the business benefits of a converged network including increased productivity, greater business flexibility and reduced operational costs."

He added that with the introduction of the VoIP companies will experience lower overall communication costs that are about 40 per cent savings on phone bills through the toll by pass VoIP and 30 per cent savings on travel costs through video conferencing especially for frequently travelling executives, cost savings in long distance calls and centralisation of data and process proficiency.

The other benefits derived from this convergence are that it improves bandwidth utilisation through the use of a single network to carry voice, fax, video and data and have a single sourcing for all communications which in turn reduces the network maintenance and management costs.

He noted that organisations with phone bills exceeding Sh200,000 can save 40 per cent or more of their communications costs using UUNET's converged solutions.

Convergence is the cornerstone to the success of telecommunications within the African continent and UUNET Kenya is best positioned to ensure its corporate customers leverage their own data networks to bring the true benefits of convergence to the forefront of their business.

"The Kenyan market will greatly benefit from converged solutions as it brings with it economic development and upliftment because these technologies provide the platform for lower costs of communication, increased flexibility in access to phones, e-mail and unified messaging for a user situated anywhere on the UUNET network," says Mwondi.

The technologies that form part of converged IP solutions include; IP telephony, IP video conferencing, unified messaging, IP call centres, outsourced PABX and e-mail services.

While the regulatory authorities in Kenya only allow use of IP telephony within an organisation's own network, UUNET Kenya is working closely with the relevant authorities to leverage on its global alliances to provide corporate organisations of all sizes with the technologies to leapfrog traditional methods of communication thus adequately preparing them for migration to converged solutions since Voice over IP for corporates is legal.

Kenya Times