Safcom to retain satellite links

September 16, 2009
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, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 16 – Mobile services operator Safaricom will continue to rely on its satellite link as a back –up even after two fibre-optic cables become fully operational, the firm’s top management has said.

Safaricom Chief Executive Officer Michael Joseph said on Wednesday that although satellite bandwidth is expensive, they would continue to utilise it until the connections on the cables is guaranteed.

“We need to have a redundant network. If the cable gets cut as it happens all the time, you need to have a redundant route. We must keep our satellite capacity going at the moment to offer that redundancy,” he said.

Until the redundancy is achieved in the southern part of Africa, that is the only time the company would lessen its dependence on the satellite link, he added.

This effectively means that Safaricom internet customers will continue to pay higher costs for their (internet connectivity) bandwidth.

The firm is a shareholder in TEAMS and another stake in privately funded SEACOM as it seeks to become competitive in data services market.

Mr Joseph who spoke during the launch of their new tariff dubbed ‘Supa Ongea’ said the company plans to become a big player in the data market and has invested heavily in this regard.

Safaricom recently entered into a strategic alliance with Jamii Telecommunications Limited, it has also leased fibre from Kenya Data Network and Telkom Kenya. Additionally, it owns a major stake in Onecom as it seeks to increase its capacity.

He said the introduction of the tariff which allows subscribers to enjoy discounts based on the time of calling and location had not been prompted by the need to counter competition but that of providing its customers with value added services.

“We measure the traffic on the network on a weekly basis and depending on the traffic and the time of day and the site you are on you may get a different tariff,” he said.

He added: “Even as you move from one side of your room to another you may experience a different tariff.”

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