Internet users including East African businesses can now sigh with relief following Telkom Kenya’s announcement last week of the region’s fourth undersea fibre optic player.
The 2,700km long cable named Lower Indian Ocean Network 2 (Lion2) was funded by France Telecom, Telkom Kenya’s parent firm, at a cost of KShs 5.7 billion (57 million Euros).
The cable runs from Kenya’s cost in Nyali, to Mayotte, an island off the Indian Ocean Coast and is set to position Kenya higher in the communication industry as it links East Africa to Madagascar using the same cable.
Telkom Kenya Chief Executive Officer Mickael Ghossein said in a statement LION2 would play a great role in addressing redundancy especially during power outages as experienced last month. Early last month Internet services in the country were adversely affected after cables owed by TEAMs and EASSy were cut.
Majority of the country’s Internet retail customers however doubt whether the entry of the new player could bring any difference in pricing. Despite the large number of players in the country’s fibre optic business, Internet prices are yet to go down.
Before fibre optical cables’ entry into the Internet world, service providers had to rely on satellites, whose wholesale prices were as high as $3,500. With the fibre optical cables, the wholesale prices have decreased to about $400.
According to a communication specialist in Nairobi who sought anonymity, the main reason to the high Internet prices may be due to the initial laying costs incurred by the operating companies.
“Maybe they (operators) want to at least recover part of their initial investment, therefore charging the high connectivity charges. With time, the prices are expected to come down to the expected levels,” she explained.
Kenya is at present serviced by three cables including the East African Marine System (Teams), Seacom, and East Africa Submarine Cable System (Eassy).
Teams and Seacom were the first cable to land at the Kenyan coast in 2009 resulting to fast Internet in the country.