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Internet growth fails to connect millions online : The Standard



Millions of Kenyans are yet to obtain an Internet connection despite significant strides made to broaden access. 

Industry data from the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) indicates that service providers are jostling for a fraction of high-value users with prohibitive costs and lack of connectivity cutting off millions of potential subscribers.
According to the CA, the number of mobile data subscriptions grew by 2.7 per cent to reach 41.8 million as at September 2018, up from 40.7 million registered during the previous quarter.
However, this applies to the total number of activated SIM cards and does not indicate individual usage patterns.

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Since one in three Kenyans has more than one SIM card, the subscription data paints an overly optimistic picture, with CA admitting it is yet to develop an accurate measurement tool.
“The information on Internet penetration has not been included in this report because the authority is in the process of reviewing the methodology for estimating Internet users in line with local needs and current market developments,” said CA in a note accompanying the sector statistics.
A closer look at broadband penetration and usage numbers show more subdued access, instead indicating a widening digital divide.
Total bandwidth available in Kenya almost doubled over the past year from 2,900Gbps in 2017 to 4,623Gbps this year.
Conversely, broadband usage grew marginally from 887Gbps to 977Gbps over the same period of time.

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This means Kenyan Internet users are utilising only 21 per cent of the total available bandwidth with the rest lying in idle capacity.
At the same time, fixed fibre optic data subscriptions stood at a paltry 123,487 as at September 2018, including home and corporate users.
This is crucial for service providers because fixed broadband provides a more permanent revenue stream through subscription fees and more brand loyalty compared to mobile broadband.
Fixed broadband also translates to more value since the infrastructure allows service providers to roll out additional products and services to the same consumers at little cost.
“Broadband environments are not voice-centric and are instead designed to sustain ubiquitous digital services, of which a voice telephony service is only one,” says the International Telecommunications Union in a white paper on the global broadband market.

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