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Microsoft-linked internet firm’s subscriber base falls 83 percent

Students browse the Internet provided by Mawingu Networks Limited in a joint initiative with Microsoft to connect rural residents in Nanyuki to the service. PHOTO | FILE
Students browse the Internet provided by Mawingu Networks Limited in a joint initiative with Microsoft to connect rural residents in Nanyuki to the service. PHOTO | FILE  

Microsoft-backed internet provider Mawingu Networks Limited, has seen a 83 percent decline in its subscriber base to 13,128 following a new Communication Authority (CA) guidance that now requires tech firm to furnish the regulator with data of active customers only.

The latest regulator guidance saw Mawingu provide subscriptions that have generated revenue for the company within the past three months, pushing it from the third most popular fixed data provider with some 77,722 subscribers, a 21 percent market share, according to data from the previous quarter, to sixth most used with a 3.8 percent market share.

Overall, this latest guidance led to a 51 per cent sharp decline in terrestrial wireless data subscriptions to 59,380 from 122,037 recorded in the last quarter, latest industry data covering three months to September show.

Revenue

“This drop is attributed to the regulatory guidance issued by the Authority to Mawingu Networks Ltd to review its data on the number of data/Internet subscriptions in-line with the official definition of an active subscription which refers to any subscription that has generated revenue within the last 90 days,” said the regulator in the report.

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Mawingu is an affordable internet service in which tech giant Microsoft has a 10 per cent stake. The project also enjoys support from United States’ development finance institution OPIC.

The company provides cheap Wi-Fi in specifically in Nanyuki Town by tapping White Spaces; a technical term used to refer to the unused broadcast frequencies, which are a key resource for bridging the last mile in Internet access.

Market share

Zuku parent company Wananchi Group Kenya, which is billed as the biggest fixed internet provider in the country, and Safaricom, #ticker:SCOM grew their fixed data market share for the quarter to 39.2 and 27.6 percent after increasing their customers by 25,058 and 18,504, respectively.

Zuku and Safaricom’s market share stood at 30 percent and 21.2 percent, respectively, according to the CA’s previous report ending June 2018.

In the quarter under review, the total number of active internet subscriptions stood at 42.2 million, up from 41.1 million subscriptions in the previous quarter, a 2.7 percent growth.

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