Archive for October, 2008|Monthly archive page

Broadband Internet in Kenya? Are we there yet…….Pt 1

Fellow Kenyans …………. Anyway, alot has been written about broadband (or the lack thereof) in Kenya. Everybody is touting its connectivity to be broadband, and promising uptime of 99%, the holy grail being 99.999%. All nicely said, but what is broadband? Many definitions abound, but without getting bogged in speeds and stuff, it is all of the below, and more….

Technology that enables faster internet access, and as a result allows services such as interactive digital TV, video conferencing and video. Go here for more.

High-speed Internet generally taken to be Internet offered at speeds greater than 150Kbits/second. Go here for more.

Refers to three different kinds of high-speed Internet connections; cable, DSL and satellite. Go here for more.

Without getting bogged in terminology, read this this gem from Wikipedia: 

Although various minimum speeds have been used in definitions of broadband, ranging up from 64 kbit/s up to 1.0 Mbit/s, the 2006 OECD report is typical in counting only download speeds equal to or faster than 256 kbit/s as broadband, and the US FCC currently defines broadband as anything above 768 kbit/s. Speeds are defined in terms of maximum download because several common consumer broadband technologies such as ADSL are “asymmetric” — supporting much slower maximum upload speeds than download.

Broadband is often called high-speed Internet, because it usually has a high rate of data transmission. In general, any connection to the customer of 256 kbit/s (0.256 Mbit/s) or more is considered broadband Internet. The International Telecommunication Union Standardization Sector (ITU-T) recommendation I.113 has defined broadband as a transmission capacity that is faster thanprimary rate ISDN, at 1.5 to 2 Mbit/s. The FCC definition of broadband is 200 kbit/s (0.2 Mbit/s) in one direction, and advanced broadband is at least 200 kbit/s in both directions. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has defined broadband as 256 kbit/s in at least one direction and this bit rate is the most common baseline that is marketed as “broadband” around the world. There is no specific bitrate defined by the industry, however, and “broadband” can mean lower-bitrate transmission methods. Some Internet Service Providers (ISPs) use this to their advantage in marketing lower-bitrate connections as broadband.

In practice, the advertised bandwidth is not always reliably available to the customer; ISPs often allow a greater number of subscribers than their backbone connection can handle, under the assumption that most users will not be using their full connection capacity very frequently. This aggregation strategy works more often than not, so users can typically burst to their full bandwidth most of the time; however, peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing systems, often requiring extended durations of high bandwidth, stress these assumptions, and can cause major problems for ISPs who have excessively overbooked their capacity. For more on this topic, see traffic shaping. As takeup for these introductory products increases, telcos are starting to offer higher bit rate services. For existing connections, this most of the time simply involves reconfiguring the existing equipment at each end of the connection.

Since this is Kenya, let us use 256kbps as the mimimum speed for broadband internet access. In part 2 of this series, I will compare the various offerings from the Kenyan market, so that you the consumer can make an informed choice. Let nobody bamboozle you with marketing hype. The low down is coming soon here! Don’t blink!

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Wananchi wana Zuku

There is a new kid on the block, Wananchi’s Zuku. They are promising triple play (TV, broadband, phone). Read on.

I was happy the phone was answered on the first ring. Dial 020-329 2900 for the Sales team. Good start. Make sure you talk to Pauline, she always calls back.

Internet connection: They hook you up with a wireless connection (some drilling on your wall for the outdoor unit, cable to indoor unit then connection to your PC or switch in the house). For a damage of KES. 2,999 per mo’ you enjoy 256kbps, shared, repeat shared. The sales lady told me I should get 60-80% of the bandwidth I pay for, since its shared. I told her I would measure that and harass them later if I got less. Installation charges @ KES. 5,800. If you want to use a laptop to enjoy the service, a wireless modem will set you back KES. 7,500. That is for techophiles who want to roam their backyards or balcony while surfing. Important: They have to confirm if the signal is available in your area before you sign up. Nice touch.

For cable TV (delivered through fiber-optic cable), they offer various packages from 1,160 to 3,999 per month. You get a decoder with a smart card and you can veg your way to a couch potato. Installation, KES. 5,800. Again, they confirm that the cable is available in your area before you sign up.

If you sign up for both TV and internet, installation is only 5,800. The phone service will be available at a later date.

Call 020-329 2900 for details, email: sales@zuku.co.ke, or go here