Safaricom is seeking to connect 2,000 more homes to its fibre optic network by the end of the year in a bid to reduce reliance on voice business as a profit driver.
The firm says it has so far connected 6,047 homes and targets to increase the number by leveraging the 2,328 kilometres of the cable network it has rolled out in 10 towns to reach home Internet users, public service providers and commercial buildings.
“We intend to increase our customer base on fibre to homes to 8,000 by the end of the year as well as enhance fixed calling, cloud and managed services,” Safricom CEO Bob Collymore said.
The firm, which rolled out the fibre infrastructure in 2012, says it has connected 1,002 commercial buildings.
Mobile data is currently the fastest growing revenue stream, with direct connections to fibre seen as a way of further boost the uptake of Internet by offering faster and more reliable connections.
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The move will expand Safaricom’s Internet service offerings such as video conferencing and TV viewing which the telco cannot offer on the modem platform.
Safaricom also has WiMax frequencies — wireless Internet— to connect homes but the limited frequencies have slowed large scale deployment of wireless data networks. Connecting more customers to fibre will increase Safaricom’s competition against rivals like Jamii Telecoms, Liquid Telecoms, Wananchi and Telkom Kenya.
Jamii Telecom’s Jamii Faiba dominates this market segment with 7,486 customers connected to its fibre infrastructure of more 4,000 kilometres across the country.
Telkom Kenya has 4,500km of fibre optic network spread across the country while that of Access Kenya stands at 350 kilometres.
Safaricom expects demand for data services in Kenya to rise, thanks to an explosion of Internet-ready devices, especially mobile phones, applications and content.
According to Safaricom’s half-year results, the number of smartphones on its network increased to 4.1 million representing a 33 per cent growth from the previous period.
Kenya’s young and tech-savvy population is buying high-end mobile phones, boosting data usage.
As a result, operators are revamping their infrastructure to deliver fast connections for users of tablet computers and smartphones, a lucrative and fast-growing market.
The interest in the data market is informed by a drop in tariffs in the voice business and the fact that most African countries are approaching maturity in terms of voice and SMS demand.
SOURCE: BUSINESS DAILY