Poa! Internet Blames Wi-Fi Resellers for Equipment Theft

Rooftop WiFi Point by Poa! Internet
Rooftop WiFi Point by poa! Internet

Poa! Internet users have been experiencing service interruptions over the last couple of weeks. The issue had also been reported sometime last year, and it looks like the ISP, which is known for targeting low-income households for its services, is trying to address the issue with law authorities after it was discovered that some of its receivers and routers had been stolen by unknown people.

To note, there are two elements to this case, and they appear to be related. The first case, as said, has been associated with the theft of Poa! equipment, which it uses to offer Wi-Fi services to homes, and to the public (Poa! Street). The second case was communicated by the ISP just the other day when it was revealed that the company had suspended Poa! Street service to address technical issues. The maintenance work was supposed to end over the past weekend.

“Over the last few months, we have made significant progress with police and authorities in identifying the perpetrators of these crimes. With the help of our communities and the customers we serve, we have now built a significant case of evidence against those involved. We now have evidence pointing to the fact that this is a targeted and coordinated effort from external criminal elements who are determined to disrupt our services. We feel this is selfish, and note its impact on the livelihoods of our customers,” said Lilian Maingi – Kyalo, Customer Director, Poa! Internet.

Poa! is now sensitizing customers and communities to remain vigilant and report any incidents they observe. The company acknowledges that progress has been made in a short period thanks to the support of its customers.

Poa! is further recommending basic security measures for individuals who welcome visitors to their homes or business premises, such as checking ID badges with a photo and ensuring that the representative is dressed in branded clothing.

A lot of customers have since acknowledged the theft of Poa! equipment has become commonplace. Poa!, based on the above statements, has accepted fault and further adds that the theft is associated with illegal internet reselling. Technically, rival and unknown companies are offering the same services to customers using the infrastructure of established brands (Poa!, and others) to offer even low-cost internet access services to customers for a much lower price.

“Usually illegal Samabaza are using them (the stolen equipment) to provide competing services but without someone having to pay for the equipment,” says Poa! in a comment on LinkedIn.

Poa!’s business model is simple: it offers some of the cheapest Wi-Fi services to underserved and low-income communities within Nairobi and other towns in Kenya. Its Home Wi-Fi service costs KES 1500, and for that, customers can get speeds of up to 4 Mbps.

Poa! also has its Street service, which installs Wi-Fi hotspots in specific areas. Customers access the first 100 MBs for free. Any additional data costs KES 20 for 1 GB.

Poa! secured a total of $28 million in a Series C funding round in 2022, which was spearheaded by Africa50. This funding brought the company’s total raised amount to $36 million.