Kenya Power to connect rural households to the Internet

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Kenya Power to connect rural households to the Internet


Rosemary Oduor, Acting Managing Director of Kenya Power. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NMG

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Summary

  • This is a step forward for the electricity distributor, which rents fiber optic cables attached to its transmission lines from Internet service providers.
  • Kenya Power said it will now aim directly to connect rural customers to the internet as it has expanded electricity penetration across the country by connecting millions of new households in rural areas to its national grid.
  • Kenya Power’s customer base stood at 8,278,203 at the end of June 2021, indicating a huge customer base.

Kenya Power #ticker: KPLC plans to connect millions of its customers in rural homes to high-speed internet as part of a new plan to capitalize on the growing use of mobile data in the country and generate new sources of income.

This is a step forward for the electricity distributor, which rents fiber optic cables attached to its transmission lines from Internet service providers.

Kenya Power said it will now aim directly to connect rural customers to the internet as it has expanded electricity penetration across the country by connecting millions of new households in rural areas to its national grid.

This will enable it to lead the battle for Internet customers to Telkom Kenya, Kenya Data Networks, Safaricom, Jamii Telecoms, AccessKenya, Essar Telecoms and Wananchi Group which have dominated the Internet market.

“In the medium to long term, the company is exploring the fiber optic sector to increase the penetration of Internet connectivity, especially in rural areas,” Kenya Power said in its latest annual report.

The plan that could shake up Internet service providers (ISPs) who use the Kenya Power network to sell the Internet gives the utility a head start in the race to connect rural homes to the Internet because it would use its network of electricity transmission. to link fiber networks to homes.

Currently, ISPs rely on Kenya Power’s extensive electricity transmission network to provide them access to nearly eight million electricity customers and significantly reduce the cost of expensive infrastructure support involving the digging of trenches for laying land cables.

In 2010, Kenya Power signed a 20-year lease worth $ 3.8 million (421 million shillings) with Safaricom for the use of a pair of fiber-optic cables. He also signed agreements with telecommunications companies Wananchi Group and Jamii Telecommunications, each signing five-year leases worth a total of $ 3.6 million (Sh 403 million).

“The Company’s extensive fiber optic network currently provides dark fiber services to major ISPs nationwide to facilitate the provision of Internet services to the end buyer in the retail and corporate segments across the country and countries. neighbors, ”the utility company said.

Kenya Power’s customer base stood at 8,278,203 at the end of June 2021, indicating a huge customer base.

The majority of Kenya’s ISPs do not have the capacity to provide downstream consumers with fiber optic bandwidth, leaving room for a few players, who can use the advantage to keep prices high. ISPs charge between 1,000 shillings and up to 5,000 shillings per month to connect customers in rural homes.

Connecting consumers to the fiber optic platform requires an elaborate terrestrial network that only a few companies can build and profitably operate.

Only a few players like Telkom Kenya, Kenya Data Networks and Safaricom have invested in the national terrestrial network and support platforms that can be used to deliver last mile connection across the country. This means that millions of Kenyans in rural areas, who expected better internet speeds and lower prices for data and voice services, have had to wait longer.

Broadband internet was expected to stimulate e-commerce among rural people who have been excluded from the digital revolution due to poor infrastructure and the high cost of satellite platforms.

Industry statistics show that Nairobi and Mombasa alone account for 90 percent of Kenya’s three million internet users, and the battle for market share is still centered around the country’s two main cities.

To access high-speed internet through fiber-optic submarine cables, consumers must be connected to one of the nearest node metropolitan fiber rings if they are not in buildings or on the route covered by cable.

However, such a connection entails an additional cost for the customer who must purchase the necessary infrastructure.

Alternatively, consumers can use radio technology to connect to an ISP’s fiber network.

Industry experts claim that the speed difference between the first option and the second is 10 millisecond latency and eliminates the need to invest huge sums of money in purchasing the last mile fiber optic connection.

Safaricom recently announced that it will increase its fifth-generation (5G) sites to 200 by the end of the year and bring lightning-fast services to market in 2022.

The leader of telecommunications operators, which launched 5G technology with 15 sites in March, says it wants to extend high-speed Internet to other cities.

At the end of March, Safaricom had 5,526 2G base stations and 5,500 for 3G. Its 4G base stations rose 24.1% to 5,387, indicating that the phone company is also focusing more on fourth-generation sites.

Safaricom and its closest rival Airtel Kenya are both in the race for super-fast internet, with priority given to urban centers like Nairobi.

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