Investors interested in setting up independent internet networks can now apply for authority to do so from the Communications Commission of Kenya. This follows the end of Telkom Kenya's monopoly on internet communications yesterday which it offered through its backbone service, Jambonet.

Announcing the change , Transport minister John Michuki, who spoke before last week's cabinet reshuffle (after which he lost the communications portfolio to Raphael Tuju) said:"The attention of the public is drawn to the fact that the monopoly enjoyed by Jambonet on internet communications came to an end today, and anyone interested in the establishment of an independent internet network is free to apply for the authority to do so from the regulator," Mr Michuki, told journalists in Nairobi.

Mr Michuki said that he had already signed a gazette notice dated 18th June 2004, which the Attorney General had been asked to publish. The Kenya Communications Act of 1998 states that in exercise of the powers conferred by section one of the Kenya Communication Act 1998, the minister of is to appoint July 1, 2004 as the date on which backbone internet services are liberalised.

Mr Kirui said they would licence three internet backbone providers to compete with Jambonet. He said one of the firms will be licensed to the Second National Operator. "Hopefully by the end of the year the three internet backbone providers will have been licensed and operational and we are going to advertise in the course of the week," noted Mr Kirui.

Mr Michuki said the long awaited policy on internet had been formulated. "We want internet service providers to apply for authority and provide services that they thought were missing," he said. The minister warned that he would not accept internet licences to be sold at low prices.

"We don't want to see what happened recently with KenCell to happen in the internet sector. KenCell sold its 60 per cent for over Sh18 billion and and yet five years ago when the licence was given it was Sh4 billion. In future we will not sell our licences so low," the minister said

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