Jamii Telecom has signed a Sh1.2 billion deal with a Chinese firm to connect 100,000 homes to fibre optic cables, setting off a scramble for dominance in the home internet market, seen as the new growth avenue.
The internet service provider(ISP) becomes the first to connect home users directly to fibre optic cables in Kenya.
Other ISPs use the hybrid system technology (last mile) which has many challenges.
Joshua Chepkwony, the chairman of Jamii Telecoms, said the firm is taking the first leap in connecting home users directly and is targeting households in Karen, Lavington, Parklands, Kilimani, Kileleshwa, Lang’ata, South B, Nyayo Estate Embakasi, Gigiri and Runda in Nairobi in the first phase.
It will connect Kisumu, Nakuru, Mombasa, Eldoret and Nyeri in the second and the third phases to be carried out in the next two years.
The partnership with ZTE is set to renew the battle for control of Kenya’s internet market with focus shifting to roping in households into growth plans.
Three ISPs, Wananchi Online, AccessKenya and Swift Global have announced plans to diversify, betting on rising demand for Internet by Kenya’s middle class.
“The future of telecoms industry is in data and mainly catalysed by the younger generation in the age bracket of between 25 to 40 years and whom the industry is targeting now,” said Mr Chepkwony.
The entry of big telcos such Safaricom, Orange, Airtel and Yu is pilling pressure on traditional ISPs who now have to diversify to grow earnings.
The change of licensing regime in 2009, allowing operators not only to offer internet services to corporate users, but also to individuals has opened the homes market to more players.
Direct connections to fibre optic cables will boost uptake of Internet as with the other platforms end users are not guaranteed of the capacity since it comes as a shared service among users.
Firms such as AccessKenya and Kenya Data Networks say the hybrid technology has slowed down connections.
“Landlords have issues with tenants putting up radios on the roof, but it is something that is improving as more people understand the need for internet,” AccessKenya MD Jonathan Somen said.
Already, ZTE has connected houses in Capital apartments in Kilimani area where it was conducting pilot tests.
The ISP said it is targeting areas with clear architectural planning and with access roads, making it easy for mapping of the project.