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Kenya Power to spread Internet cables in homes across seven towns

Kenya Power chief executive Ben Chumo. PHOTO | FILE
Kenya Power chief executive Ben Chumo. PHOTO | FILE 

Kenya Power is set to connect homes in seven towns across the country to its fibre network beginning February next year in a test of the viability of its fibre optic cables business.

The utility firm says that it will target Nairobi, Kisumu, Nyeri, Meru, Mombasa, Nakuru and Eldoret in a pilot of its fibre-to-the-home business.

Through its subsidiary Kenya Power International, it will seek to connect 120 households in each of these towns.

“After this pilot we’ll go out to look for service providers who will roll out fibre to the home. We should come up with a revenue sharing model,” said Kenya Power chief executive Ben Chumo in an interview. He added that Kenya Power was currently seeking out an Internet service provider to partner with on the pilot.

In April this year, Kenya Power and Safaricom signed a deal to connect 12,000 homes to fibre in a 12-month pilot.

However, Dr Chumo said, the project is separate from the one planned in the seven towns. The MoU between the two firms, he said, ties Kenya Power to extend its fibre network to uncovered areas where Safaricom wishes to extend its business.

“Safaricom is looking at a potential number of homes that they want to connect. They can tell us this and we’ll extent the fibre” he said.

Safaricom had not responded to our queries on the matter by the time of going to press. Kenya Power has a 4,000 kilometre fibre optic network riding on its electricity infrastructure.

The network is already leased to Internet service providers including Safaricom, Wananchi Group and Jamii Telecom.

The company last year announced that it was expanding investments in the telecommunications industry to include fibre to the home services. Fibre to the home could prove a lucrative venture for the utility firm.

In the financial year to June 2016, Kenya Power made Sh276 million from leasing its fibre optic network.

Make savings

Dr Chumo says that the goal is to turn the company’s fibre optic network into a neutral infrastructure leasable to any of the internet service providers (ISPs) operating in Kenya. 

Companies will also commission the utility firm to lay cable in parts of the country where there is no pre-existing infrastructure.

Dr Chumo says that only Safaricom has signed such a deal with the electricity distributor so far. Kenyan Internet service providers are looking to grow fibre connectivity to homes amid rising internet usage in the country.

The Communications Authority of Kenya estimates that there are 27,561 fibre subscriptions in the country.

Nevertheless, companies in the sector say that they passed their cables by at least 100,000 homes.

Kenya Power argues that its fibre-to-the-home services will exert downward pressure on the cost of fibre connectivity in the country.

According to Dr Chumo, it costs about Sh7,000 to bury a meter of fibre optic cable, but the cost of hanging the cables on power poles is significantly lower.

Kenya Power also reckons that it will make savings by using its existing labour force for the work.MUTHOKI MUMO and DAVID HERBLING

Kenya Power is set to connect homes in seven towns across the country to its fibre network beginning February next year in a test of the viability of its fibre optic cables business.

The utility firm says that it will target Nairobi, Kisumu, Nyeri, Meru, Mombasa, Nakuru and Eldoret in a pilot of its fibre-to-the-home business.

Through its subsidiary Kenya Power International, it will seek to connect 120 households in each of these towns.

“After this pilot we’ll go out to look for service providers who will roll out fibre to the home. We should come up with a revenue sharing model,” said Kenya Power chief executive Ben Chumo in an interview. He added that Kenya Power was currently seeking out an Internet service provider to partner with on the pilot.

In April this year, Kenya Power and Safaricom signed a deal to connect 12,000 homes to fibre in a 12-month pilot.

However, Dr Chumo said, the project is separate from the one planned in the seven towns. The MoU between the two firms, he said, ties Kenya Power to extend its fibre network to uncovered areas where Safaricom wishes to extend its business.

“Safaricom is looking at a potential number of homes that they want to connect. They can tell us this and we’ll extent the fibre” he said.

Safaricom had not responded to our queries on the matter by the time of going to press. Kenya Power has a 4,000 kilometre fibre optic network riding on its electricity infrastructure.

The network is already leased to Internet service providers including Safaricom, Wananchi Group and Jamii Telecom.

The company last year announced that it was expanding investments in the telecommunications industry to include fibre to the home services. Fibre to the home could prove a lucrative venture for the utility firm.

In the financial year to June 2016, Kenya Power made Sh276 million from leasing its fibre optic network.

Make savings

Dr Chumo says that the goal is to turn the company’s fibre optic network into a neutral infrastructure leasable to any of the internet service providers (ISPs) operating in Kenya. 

Companies will also commission the utility firm to lay cable in parts of the country where there is no pre-existing infrastructure.

Dr Chumo says that only Safaricom has signed such a deal with the electricity distributor so far. Kenyan Internet service providers are looking to grow fibre connectivity to homes amid rising internet usage in the country.

The Communications Authority of Kenya estimates that there are 27,561 fibre subscriptions in the country.

Nevertheless, companies in the sector say that they passed their cables by at least 100,000 homes.

Kenya Power argues that its fibre-to-the-home services will exert downward pressure on the cost of fibre connectivity in the country.

According to Dr Chumo, it costs about Sh7,000 to bury a meter of fibre optic cable, but the cost of hanging the cables on power poles is significantly lower.

Kenya Power also reckons that it will make savings by using its existing labour force for the work.

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