Corporate News

Fibre optic firms flood Kenyan coast

Rivalry within the international fibre optic segment is up. Photo/LABAN WALLOGA
Rivalry within the international fibre optic segment is up. Photo/LABAN WALLOGA 

Competition within the international fibre optic segment is set to intensify in coming months as new players enter the market and existing projects move to consolidate on their regional presence.

Kenyan firms will soon enjoy increased access to the Internet through an expanded number of fibre optic cable providers within the next six months, a factor that analysts say could push pricing for data products down in the next year.

The privately owned Seacom project is one of three international fibre cables that connects directly to Kenya’s coast, carrying high-speed data connectivity to the countries within the region.

“The latest developments are integral to the continued development and expansion of networks in Africa and in particular to countries that have had limited access to broadband connectivity,” said Suveer Ramdhani, Seacom’s Head of Product Strategy.

Seacom, alongside the government-led TEAMs and operator-run EASSy projects, provide the region with cheaper and more reliable internet and telephony connectivity.

International fibre operator Seacom recently announced that it has extended its network deepening competition in the fibre segment as operators race to connect the eastern seaboard of Africa.

The company said it had added Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe to its network, saying the move was part of an ongoing focus to connect the continent.

All three projects are likely to compete with a new entrant in the form of France Telecom, which recently announced that it was committing Sh1.5 billion (14 million euros) to extend the “Lower Indian Network 2” (LION 2) submarine cable to the LION cable to Kenya via Mayotte.

With the LION and LION2 cables, France Telecom will have access to three telecommunication highways, enabling it to route voice and data telecommunications via La Réunion and Mauritius.

Redirect traffic

Two new landing stations will be built, one in Kaweni for Mayotte and the other at Nyali near Mombasa for Kenya, said the company as it released its latest financial results.

The second of these is paired up with existing stations and will be used to redirect traffic if needed.

The new cable will also provide an alternate route for secure broadband transmissions through Europe and Asia for all of the African countries in which the Group is located.

This diversification of transmission arteries and connection points is a key factor in the performance of the continent’s internet networks, as fibre becomes the default connectivity option and replaces the more expensive satellite link.

mkinyanjui@ke.nationmedia.com