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Internet in Kenya

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Remarkable annual growth continues to be registered in the Internet/data service. In the financial year 2012/13, for instance, 12.4 million subscriptions were registered from 7.7 million in 2011/12, a 61.0 per cent growth.

The data/ Internet subscriptions have been boosted mainly by the mobile operators’ keenness to continue growing their market shares in the market as well as the need for revenue diversification.

The satellite subscriptions increased by more than two – folds from 519 subscriptions posted in 2011/12 to 1,278 in 2012/13.

The number of fixed fibre subscriptions grew increased by 86.8 per cent from 31,155 subscriptions posted in 2011/12 to 58,197 in 2012/ 13. This growth in fixed fibre subscriptions indicates an enhanced access to broadband services that has been accelerated by increased roll – out of fibre by the competing providers in the country.

Internet users in the country increased significantly by 61.2 per cent from 12.1 million users in 2011/ 12 to 19.6 million users in 2012/13. Access to internet services registered an annual growth of 18.8 per cent in 2012/ 13 compared to the previous year.

Internet services provision in the country have come a long Way over the past 50 years. Poor line quality and congestion made the use of switched voice connections for data transmission problematic, especially for international links.

Until recently, data transmission requirements were met mainly through the use of modems over leased analog lines. Growth in the use of leased analog lines for data has been rapid: 50 leased lines were in use in 1980; by 1983,169 modems were in use to terminate leased data lines; and by the end of KPTC’s 1987 – 88 fiscal year (June 1988), 307 modems were used in this manner.

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The total in the early 1990 s may have been about 400, but achieving an exact count of modems has become more difficult since 1991, when the market was opened to competitive supply.

According to data from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), as of 1992, KPTC reported that there were 525 pieces of data termination equipment attached to the public telephone network, and 4,500 on other networks.

In May 1991 (and since November 1990 on a free of charge trial basis), a new alternative to the use of modems and leased lines became available: the Kenpac packet-switched data network. Kenpac

represented a major technical and operational advance for KPTC, but it was controversial in some parts of the user community at the time of its introduction.

Some users voiced concern about the quality of service that could be expected and expressed fears that Kenpac would lead to higher prices for leased lines if KPTC tried to force a migration from leased lines to public switched digital services, as some European public telecommunication firms had attempted to do.

In practice, marketplace realities and users’ bargaining power resulted in this fem being unfounded: because of resistance from users, Kenpac charges were less than half those originally announced. As of 1992, KPTC reported that 354 pieces of data termination equipment were connected to Kenpac.

To achieve prompt service, Kenpac relied upon a team of dedicated technicians organised and managed separately from KPTC’s telephone network staff. During the day, at least two of these technicians were made available to support every Kenpac node. Five professional engineers per day and two per night were scheduled to staff a help-desk facility where two network management computers were located.