AccessKenya returns to low-cost home Internet with US partner

Workers lay an underground cable for Internet service provider Access Kenya. PHOTO | FILE

AccessKenya has partnered with a Silicon Valley start-up to offer households with low-cost data connectivity, returning to a market segment it exited in 2014.

The Internet service provider, ranked third in terms of broadband subscriptions in Kenya, is working with EveryLayer, a California-based firm, to deploy its excess bandwidth to homes in Nairobi’s densely populated Eastlands area.

Offered under the ‘Surf’ brand name, this last mile Internet service has already signed up more than 500 households in areas such as Buru Buru, Jericho, Kariokor, Pangani, Umoja, Hamza, Jogoo Road, Ngara, Nairobi West, and South C.

Surf’s cheapest home Internet bouquet costs Sh999 per month offering speeds of five megabits per second (Mbps), Sh1,999 monthly for 10 Mbps and Sh3,999 for faster downloads of up to 20 Mbps.

AccessKenya CEO Richard Hechle said even though the firm exited the home Internet market more than two years ago the deal with EveryLayer, ‘ensures that our infrastructure is fully utilised.’

“It is a mutually beneficial arrangement as we are reaping from the better use of the massive investment made in infrastructure and Surf’s expertise to increase connectivity in high density areas,” Mr Hechle told the Business Daily in an interview.

The company was serving only 2,000 domestic users who were plugged into the firm’s retail broadband product dubbed Access@home prior to the 2014 change of heart.

The AccessKenya-backed service also offers pay-as-you-go Internet through 50 hotspots located across the capital’s central business district and Eastlands areas, and says it has registered more than 38,000 users.

Users buy daily, weekly, monthly or 90-day bundles and pay via M-Pesa. For example, it offers a daily plan for 100 megabytes (MB)at Sh20; 500 MB weekly bouquet for Sh100; and 3 GB in a monthly plan for Sh500.

“It is aimed at delivering affordable and quality bandwidth to middle and low income households, by using our infrastructure to deliver the connectivity to these residential areas,” said Mr Hechle.

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