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!

6 comments so far

  1. Peter Njenga on

    This is such a nice post. Quite timely, even as I prepare to write about WiMAX and mobile broadband at
    As Wananchi unleashes Zuka, AccessKenya continues to pigia ‘access@home’ debe and One Communications prepares to roll out their countrywide WiMAX network, I feel that our best days are surely coming…
    I agree with you that people really read the fine print and consult widely before subscribing to these “Broadband” offerings. We should all make onformed decisions even as the Broadband Experience in Kenya draws near.
    I look forward to part 2.

  2. Peter Njenga on

    Well, I have eventually written about WiMAX mobile broadband internet in Kenya.
    You can check it out here:

  3. eleet on

    i offer a contribution to the Zuku service in form of a review in my magazine feel free to hop on over, anytime.

  4. Njambi on

    This is a great post. Is part 2 of this series out? The comparison of the various offerings from the Kenyan market? I look forward to reading part 2…

    • Guru on


      Thanks alot for the comment. I shall get off my behind and write part II. Now that Seacom has landed, I have no other excuse. You shall be the first to know.

  5. Sven B. Svensson on

    As you soo well pointed out Broad band is 1,5-2 Mbit or more. Everything else is GSM,GPRS/EGDE, ADLS or Modem of some sort. My experiance is that kenyan network (Backbone) try to cram in as much as possible leaving everybody short of what could be expected. Thats why you almost never see any ads about what speed they guarantee.
    They want you to talk about MB download and pay for that which lets be honest, is BS. The Network companies depend on an ignorant people. But I suggest everyone should hit them with the speed issue. Every time. Nobody is interested in going in a 200 ton cargo train from Mombasa to NBO for three weeks, Thats speed for you!


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