In 2002, the East Africa Business Community started a process that would see countries collaborate to bring fibre connectivity to the region. Building a sub-marine cable on the eastern Africa seaboard was part of the plan but delays and shareholder disagreements compelled Kenya to opt for its own cable.
A TEAM was launched as the contingency to guarantee connectivity in the shortest time possible. Connecting Kenya to a hub in Fujairah, United Arab Emirates, the project brought together players from the private sector and Government and was completed in record time. It became the first cable to land in Kenya in June 2009.
It was followed by SEACOM, a privately funded and more than three-quarter African-owned fibre link that aims to help communication carriers in South and East Africa. SEACOM will provide links between South Africa, Kenya and the world via fibre networks that pass through India and Europe.
The EASSY fibre optic link landed in March 2010.
Undersea fibre optic cable systems will provide African retail carriers with equal and open access to inexpensive bandwidth, removing the international infra-structure bottleneck and supporting East and Southern African economic growth. One megabyte of bandwidth on satellite costs about $3,000 (Sh240, 000) and operators anticipate prices to be as low as $500 (Sh40, 000). Such dramatic drops in rates will boost adoption and use in business, Government and households, which are constrained by high costs for relatively low speeds.
Now business such as BPOs are expected to become viable revenue earners.
All forms of commerce will benefit from fibre optic connectivity as it will lower the cost of communication, which is a vital part of any business.
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New opportunities for the growth of the data market will emerge as cheaper bandwidth should translate to more users.
Investment in ﬁbre cables in Kenya
The public and private sectors continued to invest in roll-out and expansion of broadband infrastructure in an effort to ensure access to high speed data communications services by all.
Until 2009, Kenya’s was one of the last seaboards in the world without fibre connectivity.
One megabyte of bandwidth on satellite costs about $3,000, and operators anticipate the price will be as low as $500 with fibre in two or three years’ time. Such dramatic drops in rates will boost adoption and usage levels in businesses, government, and households, which are presently constrained by high costs for relatively low speeds.
In addition to the South Africa East Africa submarine cable system (SEACOM), The East African Marine System (TEAMS) cable system and the East African Submarine System (EASSy) which have already landed at Kenya’s coast, several more international links are expected to grace our shores, increasing competition and allowing for more link availability.
Telkom Kenya, Kenya Data Networks, Access Kenya, Wananchi and Jamii Telecom embarked on laying out fibre-optic networks terrestrially across the country. The extensive networking being undertaken by private developers has seen the number of houses who can access fibre optic internet links rise from a few hundred in 2009 to an estimated seven million homes.
The Government has also invested in a national fibre optic network that will take fibre deeper into rural areas that may not initially be considered commercial priorities by commercial enterprises.