Orange trailblazing in data services

September 28, 2012
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Mobile phone service providers bosses in a past function/FILE

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 28 – Telkom Orange has the best voice service, 2G and 3G data performance in Nairobi, with Safaricom coming in a close second across the three segments, according to a new study commissioned by the Consumers Federation of Kenya (COFEK).

The study, conducted by India-based independent audit company Phimetrics, looked at all four mobile service providers (MSPs) comparing their quality of service, which COFEK Secretary General Stephen Mutoro says was generally acceptable.

However, Mutoro mentioned that there is deterioration in service in the data segment for all operators.

“Internet speeds are very low. The PS of Information said the operators were making 2,000 percent profits on data, but the speeds are not there,” he said.

In 3G, Safaricom’s throughput was 899.1 kpbs (kilobyte per second), with 97.2 percent accessibility and 2.2 second delay, while Orange had 93.3 percent accessibility, 1.2 second delay and 1079.2 kpbs throughput.

Airtel had 96.7 percent accessibility, 1.5 second delay and 657.9 kpbs throughput; yuMobile on the other hand has not deployed a 3G service.

Throughput is the amount of data that actually gets transmitted from your PC, through the Internet to the web server and back in a single unit of time.

The study conducted three separate tests to gauge 2G and 3G data through activation tests, application level download tests and monitoring activation time, application level throughput, quality and coverage.

For voice the study used dual mode (2G and 3G) capable handsets carrying out SMS test and monitoring call setup time, success rate, drop rate, quality and coverage.

Safaricom and Orange had above average 2G data speeds when pegged on global benchmarks, however all networks have below average 3G data speeds.

Specific to Nairobi, 3G was concentrated in certain pockets of the area and is not available across the country, the study revealed.

“The results show that we don’t get the real time in 3G. Some (MSPs) are contemplating moving to 4G when we have not felt the full effect of 3G,” Mutoro explained.

Airtel and yuMobile both performed poorly in voice and data, while Safaricom was found to have the widest footprint and reach across the country having the best indoor and outdoor coverage.

With 60 to 70 percent of calls in a network made from indoor locations, the study showed the most important area of improvement for all the mobile operators was indoor coverage through optimization and site addition.

The study also pointed out that while voice quality scores are acceptable for all operators from a customer perception point of view, the scores are not acceptable for the amount of spectrum that is allocated for all operators.

“Consumers are already paying a lot for poor services. It seems like mobile service operators are not reinvesting in their infrastructure and that is a crisis of some sorts,” Mutoro said.

He added that MSPs often give misleading advertisements particularly on the tariffs offered that are meant to be permanent but change every three months.

“We are putting them on notice that if they continue to mislead, the Consumer Protection Bill 2011 that will be passed on Tuesday will find them on the wrong side of the law and as an organization we will pursue that justice,” Mutoro said.

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