A peek into the Sector Statistics Report for the third quarter of 2016/17 that was summarized by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) reveals that internet services are soaring in all fronts, which is an indicator of the importance of data services to people, be it for entertainment or business.
Notably, the following fronts indicated considerable growth (for the quarter that ended in March 2017):
- Internet users stood at 40.5 million from 39.6 million that were recorded in the second quarter.
- Terrestrial wireless internet subscriptions saw a 21.5% jump from 29,724 in the previous quarter to 36,104. In like manner, Satellite subscriptions saw a 6.5% growth from 584 in the preceding quarter to 622. It should be noted that while terrestrial wireless and satellite need a dish or an antenna and both offer high-speed internet connection sans cable lines, the two data services are not the same. Satellite connections are often interrupted by bad weather but terrestrial wireless are not. Also, latency is minimal for terrestrial wireless connections because signals have a shorter distance to cover. In fact, reduced lag time is crucial for real-time applications and streaming since terrestrial wireless work at maximum efficiency. It is for these reasons that its popularity is on an upward trend based on above numbers.
- Fibre optic networks continue to grow as the quarter recorded a 22.4% growth to net 48,040 subscriptions.
- Fixed modem subscriptions were up to 95,976 subscriptions from 86,139 that was registered in the second quarter.
In contrast, the number of internet subscriptions dipped by 3.6% at 25.7 million thanks to data revisions that were enforced by Finserve Kenya during that period. Compared to the same period in the previous financial year, data subscription registered a 3.4% bump. Up to 99% of these subscriptions are accessed from mobile devices, a feat that has been achieved through subsidized prices for smart handhelds and okay data bundle/connectivity solutions by operators.
Another front that dropped numbers is data penetration that stands at 89.4% from 89.7% that was recorded in the second quarter.
Of course, these leaps have been made possible by efforts of internet service providers and mobile operators. Taking up majority of the market share is, you guessed right, Safaricom Limited with 74.9%. Airtel and Telkom Kenya take the second and third spot with 18.7% and 6.0% respectively.
Generally speaking, internet growth has been on an upward trend especially in continental Africa as global internet capacity is slowing down. Assuming the growth will continue, there is a good chance that we will see boosted speeds (at a cheaper cost, hopefully) in coming days.