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Nakuru County Governor Kinuthia Mbugua, Director of Digital Communications Dennis Itumbi and Liquid Telecom Kenya CEO Ben Roberts testing the Wi-Fi speeds during the launch of Bila Waya in Nakuru.

Kenya

Nakuru CBD gets free, high-speed WiFi

 Nakuru County Governor Kinuthia Mbugua, Director of Digital Communications Dennis Itumbi and Liquid Telecom Kenya CEO Ben Roberts testing the Wi-Fi speeds during the launch of Bila Waya in Nakuru.

Nakuru County Governor Kinuthia Mbugua, Director of Digital Communications Dennis Itumbi and Liquid Telecom Kenya CEO Ben Roberts testing the Wi-Fi speeds during the launch of Bila Waya in Nakuru.

The Nakuru County Government has launched a high-capacity free WiFi in Nakuru in partnership with Liquid Telecom Kenya. Nakuru residents will now enjoy free, fast and reliable public street Wifi connection, enabling rapid access to information vital for economic and educational advancement.

The Wifi network covers a 10-kilometre radius from Nakuru’s Central Business District (CBD) with a capacity of 1 Gigabyte per second (Gbps). Users are now enjoying a connection of 200 Megabytes per second (Mbps) pool that is upgradable to 1Gbps based on demand, which Liquid Telecom will be monitoring and upgrading as the need arises.

“Liquid Telecom has put in place outdoor Wifi nodes, which are designed to carry huge capacities with the ability to withstand harsh climatic conditions to guarantee maximum and uninterrupted speeds while surfing. With the built-in meshing technology incorporated in the network systems, users in Nakuru will not experience service interruptions when moving from one point to another within the areas covered in the town,” said Ben Roberts, Liquid Telecom Kenya CEO.

The network designed by Liquid Telecom Kenya is built around the strategic points accessed by the highest proportions of the town’s population. With 51 nodes installed, the network will serve users in the streets and open public areas such as stadia and parks. The first phase of the free Wifi project covers the county’s Kenyatta Street,

The first phase of the free Wifi project covers the county’s Kenyatta Street, Marikiti Market, the main bus terminus at the CBD, Afraha Stadium, the county headquarters and the Westside Mall, with the second phase expected to cover more streets using street poles and other public infrastructure.

Academic institutions in Nakuru will also enjoy free Wifi access, among them JKUAT Nakuru Campus and Mount Kenya University. This is expected to increase the use of e-learning, which increases information retention among students by up to 60 per cent, according to the Research Institute of America.

“With the uptake of e-learning by various colleges and universities in Kenya and the wealth of knowledge available online, Internet access in academic institutions has fast become a defining factor in the quality of education that students receive,” said Ben Roberts.

Also expected to be connected to the free Wifi are Naivasha and Gilgil towns, as well as Egerton University in Njoro, which will be connected later in 2015. The free Wifi connection will give users with Wifi enabled devices open access to the Internet with the exception of unlawful activities such as streaming or downloading of offensive content that violates copyrights.

The project, dubbed Bila Waya, is the second attempt to provide free internet access to Nakuru residents after the initial implementation by Telkom Kenya flopped in 2014.

Liquid Telecom says it has invested Sh36.4M in the project, with more set to be invested during network optimization exercises across 2015. The success of the Nakuru Wifi project is key to Liquid Telecom’s strategy of developing viable business models for the sustainable offering of free WiFi in Africa.

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“Free Wifi is a facility that is gaining traction globally. We believe it is right Africa should be at this same frontier of technology and business model,” said Ben Roberts. “This is also vital in achieving Liquid Telecom’s vision of Internet access for all of Africa, which we see as a core driver of economic takeoff and success for the continent.”

The project, a first of its kind in Kenya, will see Nakuru join Kigali in Rwanda and Tshwane in South Africa as one of the first major urban centres in Africa to enjoy access to free public Wifi.

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