Three more companies, including Postal Corporation of Kenya, have applied to the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) for Internet gateway licenses. This brings to 9 the number of companies that have applied for the licences to operate Internet node and backbone services. The other new applicants are Kenya Data Network (KDN), and mobile telephone service provider, Safaricom.

  They join six others who had handed in their applications for licenses following expiry of Telkom Kenya's monopoly at the end of June. The first six were Fast Lane, UUNet Kenya, Simbanet, Panafrican Communication Network, Access Kenya and Afsat Communications Limited.

  Fast Lane is a consortium of seven local Internet Service Providers (ISPs) including Wananchi Online, ISP Kenya, Kenyaweb, Interconnect, Nairobinet and Swiftglobal Kenya.UUNet is an ISP while Simbanet is a Public Data Network Operator (PDNO).

  The regulator is said to be weighing two options including awarding the license to three additional operators or to fully open up the market and license the applicants on a 'first come first served' basis. The official government position has been that four operators be licensed, including Telkom's Jambonet, an operator to be managed by the Second National Operator (SNO) and two other companies. Should the commission opt for this alternative it will have to award the licenses through a tendering process, which may take a full year to complete.

East African Standard