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Jamii makes aggressive entry into mobile market with focus on data

Jamii Telecom Ltd chairman Joshua Chepkwony during the launch of the telco's new 4G network on December 6, 2017. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NAIROBI
Jamii Telecom Ltd chairman Joshua Chepkwony during the launch of the telco's new 4G network on December 6, 2017. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NAIROBI 

Jamii Telecom Limited (JTL) is now Kenya's fourth mobile network operator (MNO) after unveiling its 4G offering last evening.

Dubbed Faiba 4G, the firm's new line will be gunning for the lucrative mobile data market currently dominated by Safaricom #ticker:SCOM and Airtel.

JTL, which which has over the years focused on retail and commercial data provision, is now charting a new path in the country's telco arena with the prefix 0747.

'Democratise data'

The product offering will have a heavy focus on affordable data, which is one of the engines for growth of rival Safaricom's revenues.

"Voice is data to us...Within our network you will call for free and the quality we have is HD. The catch is that you have to have a valid bundle" said JTL boss Joshua Chepkwony on Tuesday.

A look at JTL's pricing signals competitive times ahead: 1GB data bundles will cost Sh50 (valid for one day), 70GB at Sh3,000 (valid for a month) and 210 GB at Sh6,000 for a month as well.

PHOTO | COURTESY

PHOTO | LABAN CLIFF ONSERIO | NMG

Safaricom on the other hand offers 150MB for Sh50 (valid for a day), 1GB for Sh500 (valid for a month) and 12GB at Sh3,000 (valid for a month).

Airtel's 1GB 24-hour data bundle costs subscribers Sh99, 6GB costs Sh1,000 (valid for a month) and 24GB goes for Sh3,000 (valid for a month).

"What we want to do is democratise the access of data communication in Kenya" said Mr Chepkwony on Tuesday.

PHOTO | COURTESY

PHOTO | LABAN CLIFF ONSERIO | NMG

Coverage

Kenyans in Nairobi, Mombasa, Eldoret and their environs will be able to get the 0747 lines as the firm works on rolling out its services nationwide.

JTL says it has partnered with Phone Express for distribution while talks are ongoing with other retailers.

For top ups, Faiba 4G will be heavily dependent on mobile money transfer services.

The firm's management says it is also in talks with various banks to partner with them in supporting credit purchases.

Controversy

Earlier this year, the Communication Authority (CA) granted Jamii Telecom a 700 Megahertz spectrum license, a move that was met with opposition from sector players including Safaricom.

“We don’t understand how the best quality spectrum could be allocated in a process that hasn’t been shared with the operators,” said chief executive Bob Collymore in May.

According to the sector regulator, more networks are still available including the 800 Megahertz spectrum.

CA Director General Francis Wangusi, Treasury Secretary Henry Rotich and ICT's Joe Mucheru were present at the unveiling of JTL's new mobile line last evening.

"As a country, we need to move forward with how competition needs to be managed," Mr Wangusi said when queried about recent debate on dominance of Kenya's telecommunications space by certain players.

Additional reporting by Lynette Mukami

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