[AfrICANN-discuss] Kenya: Optic Cable Advent Boosts Internet Access

LO MAMADOU alfamamadou at hotmail.com
Mon Jul 19 14:29:10 SAST 2010

Kenya: Optic Cable Advent Boosts Internet Access
Jonathan Somen
17 July 2010

Nairobi — The advent of international submarine fibre has brought about significant changes to the connectivity market.

With the faster speeds and improved pricing that it now offers over satellite, there has been significant uptake of internet connectivity in Kenya with many new customers coming online.

While the international connectivity is part of the story, the development of local connectivity has changed as operators build networks to cater for the massive demands for speeds that are starting to appear.

Turning to the Nairobi metropolitan fibre networks, there are currently five operators with significant fibre networks in the market today.

Kenya Data Networks was the first operator to invest in fibre a number of years ago and have built a sizeable fibre network around Nairobi.

Jamii Telecom also built a fibre network a few years ago and TKL have a legacy fibre network which they are also expanding to offer greater coverage.

More focussed

The two newer entrants into the fibre network space are AccessKenya and Wananchi though Wananchi's network seems to be more focused on the original network of Mitsuminet, a company they bought which delivers mainly TV channels to residential homes.

AccessKenya's network was built primarily for connecting their corporate customers in the key business areas of Nairobi. It is interesting to note that no pure mobile operator has built their own significant metropolitan fibre network and all utilise networks of other providers.

Operators have deployed fibre in two different ways -- some have signed up deals with KPLC to use its cable above ground while others have chosen to go underground when building their grids.

Both options provide benefits -- in the case of above ground on poles, it is cheaper and easier to lay the fibre and this has benefits for certain areas where perhaps the number of customers are not so many.

While there are many services being put on the ground (data, telephone, water, electricity, sewage to name the main ones), digging underground is open to issues when other utilities are nearby.

However, given the depth of the cables, they should in general be much better protected against cuts. Laying fibres underground does cost more money than hosting it on poles but it should have benefits in the longer term in terms of less maintenance and less interruptions.

The issue of fibre cuts brings to light allegations of sabotage but there is a fundamental issue here which has been overlooked. Sabotage or not, fibre is designed in such a way that operators should build out fibre optic "rings".

The principle is very simple; if you build a ring of fibre, and get a cut on one side, the equipment will automatically see that there is a connectivity issue and automatically "reroute" the traffic round the other side of the fibre ring to keep the client connected.

This rerouting of traffic takes place in under 50 milliseconds which means the customer will not notice. Finally, there has been some debate about which technology between wireless and fibre is better.

I believe they are complimentary technologies. Fibre is a fast to market solution that allows operators to deploy quickly but it also offers operators a good solution to deliver services in areas where there are not so many customers.

The writer is the group managing director of AccessKenya Group


Source : Daily nation on the web
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