‘Stay at home’ order pushes Safaricom data traffic up 40pc

Listed telecommunications firm, Safaricom #ticker:SCOM has reported a 40 percent traffic surge as customers, staying at home to avoid Covid-19 infections, take solace in online movies and social media.

Safaricom chief executive Peter Ndegwa said the combined data carried on a daily basis via mobile and fixed home internet had reached 2.34 Petabytes, translating to five million hours of continuous viewing.

“This trend has been recorded not just on mobile data, but also on home fibre whose peak throughput of mobile data is now more than 150 gigabits per second (Gbps), whereas home fibre traffic has been hitting 200Gbps at its busiest times,” said Mr Ndegwa who took over office on April 1.

Traffic to Netflix via Safaricom had risen fourfold to 60 Gbps enabling users to simultaneously stream 20,000 movies at the same time.

The statement said people using Safaricom data bundles to access Facebook peaked 100Gbps where up to 100,000 users went onto Facebook Live at a time to give their friends an idea of how they are social distancing.

“We have taken measures to not only facilitate these digital connections between customers and the rest of the world, but are also introducing additional measures to maintain them in these times of Coronavirus,” Mr Ndegwa said.

He added that the investment includes a powerful video enhancement capability that ensures multiple use cases are supported at the best watch quality and delivering smooth viewing experience.

Safaricom, he said, was providing double bandwidth which enabled users to access high speed internet at half the price as a way of supporting the government’s call on Kenyans to work from home.

“We have recorded double-digit growth in data volumes, demonstrating that more Kenyans are working, studying and connecting with loved ones from home,” he said.

The number of text messages sent have also shot up by 70 percent in recent days peaking at 350 Gbps, according to the statement from the Safaricom chief.

In Africa, Kenya has the highest share of internet usage from mobile phones at 83 percent or 39.2 million users having active data subscriptions, far much ahead of desktops.