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SEACOM calls for proper fibre policy

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 23 – Internet prices in Kenya can significantly drop if backhaul and last mile connectivity is properly achieved, a regional submarine cable executive has said.

SEACOM’s East Africa Head Julius Opio says the unregulated way of deploying the two important fibre links to end users means ICT companies in Kenya are spending a huge amount of their resources on ensuring the connections are in place.

Backhaul fibre connectivity refers to the interconnection between the under-sea and inland cables, while last mile connectivity is the final link that joins the metro cable to the clients.

“We need a regulated way to deploy fibre in Kenya in a cost effective and efficient way using international standards,” Mr Opio said.

He said that although there has been progress in the last mile fibre connectivity in the last three years, the initiatives have been spearheaded by individual Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and operators as opposed to being guided by policy.

“Our regulatory law does not incorporate data fibre connectivity,” Mr Opio said. He was speaking at an America Chamber of Commerce in Kenya function in Nairobi.

Despite the fibre connection hiccups, Internet uptake in Kenya has been phenomenal since the landing of the sub-marine cables in Kenya. Last year, approximately 7.8 million Kenyans logged onto the Internet, with the figure increasing to 8.6 million in the first quarter of 2011, said Mr Opio.

He said the stage is now set for a digital revolution, and predicted that in the next one to three years, consumer spending will go online.

“Within this period, there will be a major impact in the way we do our business,” said Mr Opio.

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According to SEACOM, iconic inventions like mobile money transfer services will become web-based, even as there will be major transformations in content management with people accessing TV programmes and news from the Internet, through Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) solutions.

The SEACOM boss said with high speed broadband capacity now available in Kenya, global businesses will be hosted in the country, while Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) will seek to outsource some of their services like data hosting and network security, software services like payroll; Human Resource and Enterprise Systems.

“These will be stored on the web, such that businesses will not have to buy software and get their IT departments to run it,” says Opio.

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