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EASSy promises cheap internet

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 30 – Price wars among the three fibre optic cables operators are gaining momentum with East African Submarine System (EASSy) cable provider, WIOCC, vowing to offer the lowest fees in the market.

WIOCC Chief Executive Officer Chris Wood said on Thursday that the company would at the same time cater for small providers that require as little capacity as 2MB, as opposed to their competition TEAMS and SEACOM.

“We are determined to bring down costs because we believe we have the most cost efficient cable and will be passing on this benefit to the customer,” he said.

Mr Wood explained that unlike his counterparts who are using a ‘traditional model of service provision’ EASSy will offer an end-to-end contract that covers all aspects of the service thus making it seamless.

With the other cables, a service provider needing connectivity to locations, in a number of countries would need to negotiate contracts and support arrangements among other things.

Mr Woods maintains that the landing of EASSy would translate to significantly lower bandwidth charges.

On Wednesday, one of the major shareholders of the TEAMS cable Safaricom Chief Executive Michael Joseph said the fibre optic cable would not necessarily bring down costs dramatically in the short term.

“For instance if you are a big corporate and you are using a big pipe, I do see big reductions. But if you are a person using just a little bit of data, I don’t see massive reductions coming,” he said.

Mr Woods, on the other hand, said the EASSy cable will cost about Sh5.3 billion. Government backed The East African Marine System (TEAMS) cost about Sh10.3 billion while SEACOM the private sector cable that went live Thursday last week cost Sh59 billion.

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EASSy is jointly owned by a group of 12 telecom operators in East, Central and Southern Africa who hold 92 percent and international telecom operators with eight percent.

EASSy will provide connectivity throughout South and East Africa and connect other cable networks to Europe, USA, Middle East and Asia.

Mr Woods explained that the cable is in the process of being loaded in the ship and is scheduled to land in the East coast in April 2010 and go live in June.

“I keep seeing people saying that they have  pulled the cable from the sea and are now “live’, but this is not the case; there needs to be a testing period after the landing of the cable  before being able to transmit the info to the end user,” the CEO pointed out.

 Though the EASSy cable project was the first to be mooted it will be the last to land in the country a fact that Mr Woods blamed on regulatory hiccups that saw the project drag for a while.

“We were the first group to come up with a project like this for Africa, something that forced us to wade through the murky waters of the legal process,” Mr Woods said.

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