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AccessKenya goes live with SEACOM

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 20 – AccessKenya Group on Thursday announced that it has activated its link to the SEACOM fibre optic cable after two weeks of live testing.

AccessKenya Group Managing Director Jonathan Somen said the connectivity to the undersea cable was the initial step towards the company’s double bandwidth upgrade program, with preparations in place to be linked to the other fibre optic cable provider The East African Marine System (TEAMS) cable by September.

“Having thoroughly tested the connection and upgraded the capacities on our local network we are now ready to start implementing our double bandwidth for all our customers,” Mr Somen said.

He said the upgraded internet infrastructure will carry 10 gigabytes per second of internet traffic and would greatly relieve the pressure of internet services to all its customers.

The SEACOM cable connects South Africa, East Africa and South Asia and went live in Kenya as well as 10 other countries in July.

Fibre optic connectivity comes as a welcome relief to many people who expect the cable to positively impact social and economic possibilities.

Mr Somen also expects all buildings contracted to them under metro fibre connection to be complete by the first week of September.

“Already Barclays Plaza is connected to SEACOM and all the buildings we are working with should be fully connected by September,” he added.

The MD took the opportunity to also announce the company’s target of having all its customers on 1Megabyte internet connectivity not later than the first quarter of 2010.

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“Europe and North America enjoy speeds of up to 2MB so this will get Kenya half way to the long-term goal,” he explained.

Put into perspective, the activated link guarantees customers higher downloading speeds and faster internet connection. Mr Somen said in the past customers had download speeds of 128 kilobytes per second which has now been upgraded to 512 kbps.

He also allayed any misconceptions that customers would need fibre optic connections to their doorsteps saying the same services would be available to all customers even if they were still connected via satellite.

Through the SEACOM connection company had purchased 2.5 Gigabytes of capacity that is set improve internet connectivity even further.

The MD also highlighted that they had spent the last one year improving their internet infrastructure.

“The fibre has significantly reduced the latency of the connection to the internet meaning that customers have a much better experience for all aspects of their internet service.”

But even with fibre optic connectivity in Kenya becoming a reality, he says there won’t be a drastic drop in the cost of operations.  He says ISP providers will have to respond effectively to the needs of their customers.

“We talked to our customers and they decided they want extra bandwidth and what we are doing with double bandwidth program is giving them 500 megabytes effectively for free which in my view is great value for money,” he said.

As a safety net against redundant connection, AccessKenya Executive Director David Somen revealed the company is still holding on to their satellite service contracts. He said in the event of system failure, customers would be switched back, temporarily, onto satellite connection within ten minutes.

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“Our customers will be able to resume working quickly albeit with the higher latencies you experience on satellite,” he said.

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