Archive for September, 2008|Monthly archive page

Zain, Orange, Safaricom – Tariff Wars

People, the tariff wars are here! Zain fired the first salvo by asking us all “Sain” minded people to “Vuka 8”. This means you “vuka” to Zain and make 8/- per minute calls to ALL, repeat ALL networks. You are firmly in control now. You decide.

Not be outdone, Big Brother Suffer-icom, sorry Safaricom, shot back with a weak, mee-too rate of 5/- per minute from 10pm – midnight and 2.50 per minute from midnight to 6am ONLY on Suffericom, sorry Safaricom to Suffericom, sorry Safaricom calls. I hope nobody will make the mistake of waiting for these unGodly hours to call me. Have you noticed that Big brother never tells you how much you suffer when you make a call to another network? If you new you would go inZain, sorry, insane.

New kid on the block, Orange, is rolling out funky shops, funkier adverts and stuff. Their tariffs are not very impressive either, just so-so. Does anyone have an Orange GSM phone? What’s their network like? These are their pre-paid rates.

Family and friends — 3.50
Orange mobile, Orange fixed plus, Telkom fixed — 7.00
Other networks — 14.00
SMS local (all networks) — 3.50
SMS international — 10.00

But, their data services are worth looking at. Go here and pick an Orange

Back at Essar House, where the Econet lives, all is quiet, but am sure they are soon going to kick up a big dust storm. We are waiting!

Internet – Safaricom3G, Zain, KDN, Infinet, access@home

Things are truly heating up in the Internet access front. Not to be outdone by the mobile networks, AfricaOnline through their product, Infinet, has launched a competitive pricing scheme. They claim you can now get internet access at 5/- per MB. Translation, you purchase 100MB bandwidth for 500/-. This is in direct competition to Safariom 3G which is unit priced at 8/- per MB, and Zain which is unit priced at between 8/- and 16/-, depending on the bundle you sign up for.

AfricaOnline go ahead and load you with equipment cost @KES. 8,120/-, external antenna @ 8,000 + VAT (if required – they will do a signal test first in your premises), installation charges @ KES. 3000 etc. I got tired at this point, feeling as if they were punishing me for wanting to use their service. Still its a great service soine they guarantee (whatever that means) that you shall get the bandwidth youpay for.

Elsewhere, Econet is set to enter the market with a 3G network. The operator had better be on air by November. “We intend to have a well managed and reasonably priced package for our customers. The technology is designed to enable mobile operators to offer its users a wide range of more advanced services including high speed data, while achieving greater network capacity though improved spectral efficiency,” said the firm’s Managing Director Michael Foley. Underline high speed data. Mr Foley we are waiting to put your words to test.

AccessKenya launched their access@home product at the Jockey Club. Their website has alot of elaborate prose on the service. I am watching their product with alot of interest.

Not to be left behing, KDN are laying fibre all over the city. I was pleasantly surpised to learn that the residential block I live in somewhere in the city is all cabled up. Actually they want to terminate their fibre cable at the gate house, and run more cables to the four apartment blocks. The customers then get a router where the cable is terminated. Cost 5,220/- per month for 128/256kbps shared. Repeat, shared. At least these guys are honest. Am waiting.

Of Safaricom and a 3G hotspot

Post Update!

Our beloved and leading GSM network, a.k.a Safaricom, is finally acknowledging that we, the 10mn plus customers, actually matter. They are going to allocate us cool KES. 1 billion (out of the many), in the form a swanky new contact centre on Mombasa Rd (its actually in Mlolongo). There should be at least 300 Customer Scare, sorry Care, personnel at hand to attend to our silly problems, which we are always bothering the busy and leading provider with. The call centre will allow us to answer four times as many calls than we are able to answer now, the CEO was quoted as saying. It feels good to be recognized as the king, after a few pickups were thrown our way for endless chatter.

Methinks, with hungry competition (read Orange and Econet) sniffing the air, and Zain re-branded and ready for battle, dear Safcom is cleaning up house in readiness for bruising wars. Let’s wait and see, 1 or 2 years down the line, who will be king.

When all is said and done, its the customer who will win by taking our chatter-box selves where we get value for money, or will we? Remember we are still peculiar.

BTW: I sincerely hope Telkom Kenya will bring a fresh new brand with the launch of their GSM network, something like Orange, which the mother company uses elsewhere. Else, we shall look away uninterested and unexcited. Just do a manual network selection on your phone, and KE 07 will appear.


Original Post….

While still on the theme of things wireless, broadband, and Nairobi, our city is now blanketed by a 3G, ultra-high speed broadband hot spot, or something like that. Kenya’s runaway success story, GSM mobile service provider Safaricom, has done it again. Depending on which side of the Mobitelea fence you sit, those fellows at Safaricom are really thinking hard. They announced a multi-billion profit figure, before tax, then launched a 3G service in the city of Nairobi (complete with various connection bundles), then launched a free call service, between 9pm and 6am, for a month. You simply need to have registered once, and oh yer, recharged your account with at least 100 bob of airtime. (Some math: with 10million plus subscribers, x 100 bob each, did they just make a billion this weekend? Maybe.) Caveat: Recharging using the 20 bob voucher x 5, or the 50 bob voucher x 2, will not equal 100, a least according to our beloved Safaricom math. So you will sit patiently waiting for 11pm to chatter, only to discover you airtime has been depleted. Read the small print, comply, then call away. What is annoying is that the chatterboxes are driving other customers south.

With peculiar calling habits already entrenched, Kenyans have been chattering from 11pm to dawn without ceasing. Expect lots of calls after this hour from long lost friends, and some enemies as well. So this past week, Safaricom, the company we Kenyans love so much, has been ringing in our minds. We wonder what is next from them?

So has my dream come true? Wireless broadband on the balcony? Safaricom are promising that, and I am making a beeline for the local shop to get me one of those USB modems. I should be whistling away as I surf, while other Kenyans chatter for free. For a sum of 1,999/- per month, I shall enjoy broadband on my balcony, for a download cap of 700MB. We just have to see what that exactly means.