According to the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK), the number of Internet users increased from 12.53 in July 2011 to 14.3 million users in September.
“Internet user reached 14.3 million, meaning that 36.3 percent of the country’s total population has access to the Internet,” the regulator said in its report on the sector’s performance between July and September 2011.
The total number of subscriptions during the period also rose by 27.5 percent to 5.42 million.
As a pointer to the increasing popularity of the mobile phone as a mode of accessing the Internet, the statistics show that 99 percent of total subscriptions were done through the handset.
“The period under review witnessed 75 percent of the total users accessing the service through their mobile handsets, leaving computer and other modes of access with only 25 percent,” the quarterly report documented.
5.3 million people subscribe for Internet services from their mobile devices, 12.4 million use terrestrial wireless while 774 subscribers access the net through satellite links.
Fixed fibre optic cables have 22,467 subscribers compared to 11,016 who use fixed DSL and 25 who subscribe to fixed cable modems.
With a 36.6 percent Internet penetration, which is above the world’s average of 26.6 percent, Internet usage is expected to increase significantly as operators continue to bring new offerings into the market.
At the same time, impressive growth was also noted in the mobile phone front with the subscription during the period increasing by 1.1 million to 26.4 million.
This represented a mobile penetration rate of 67.2 percent of the population.
The regulator attributed the growth to the aggressive strategies adopted by operators to acquire more customers in an increasingly competitive market.
“This was an increase of 4.8 per cent but compared to the same period of the previous year, a 20.2 per cent increase was recorded, representing 4.46 million new subscriptions registered between these two periods,” the quarterly report indicated.
And although its market share has declined by eight percent since the last quarter, Safaricom continued to be the dominant player with its share of the pie during the period standing at 67.7 percent (17.9 million subscribers) followed by Airtel Networks Kenya Limited at 15.7 percent (4.1 million).
Essar Telecom and Telkom Kenya Limited had 6.2 percent and 10.4 percent or 1.6 million and 2.7 million customers respectively.
The dominance was also registered in terms of the new subscribers that each operator attracted during the period under review.
“Safaricom Limited recorded the highest gain (in subscriptions) of 593,177 followed by Airtel Networks Kenya Limited with 557,567 new subscriptions. Essar Telecom Kenya and Orange Telkom recorded 46,742 and 16,686 new subscribers, respectively,” the report further documented.
The aggressive consumer promotional campaigns mounted by all the operators translated into increased calls made within the networks. However, a 24 percent decrease in the traffic across networks was registered.
“The decline could have been as a result of aggressive on-net promotions by operators consequently eroding off-net traffic considering the fact that majority of mobile subscribers have multiple SIM cards. Compared to the same quarter of the previous year, an increase of 23.2 per cent was recorded,” the regulator explained.
A more than two-fold increase was also seen in terms of the Short Message Service (SMS) sent.
“During the quarter under review, there were 1.5 billion SMS sent compared to 641 million during the previous period. Remarkably, the on-net SMS sent contributed 93.9 per cent of the total SMS sent,” the CCK added.
In addition, as a consequence of the lower calling rates following the August 2010 move by the CCK to slash by half the interconnection rates to Sh2.21, there has been a 39.2 percent increase in the number of calls made from the mobile phone to fixed lines.
Traffic from fixed to mobile on the other hand continued to decline from 47.7 million minutes in the last quarter to 29.8 million minutes during the quarter under review.
With competition projected to intensify and operators expected to leverage on emerging technologies going forward, the CCK is optimistic that the sector will continue to grow impressively and contribute greatly towards the country’s economic development.