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Africa has perhaps become the poster-child for buzzwords like a mobile-first economy, with Kenya being among the most outstanding examples.

Well, a report released by the Communication Authority of Kenya (CA) – Sector Statistics Report for Q3 of 2016/17 – reinforces the notion that the country is a mobile first (just slightly shy of a mobile only) economy.

While the reports documents increased access to the internet on all fronts, it also reveals that 99% of users are browsing on mobile devices. All thanks to the proliferation of affordable smartphones, and the dropping cost of mobile data as the telecoms try to wage price wars against one another.

In a nutshell, below is a summary of the Sector Statistics Report for Q3 of 2016/17 report:

Ø From Q2 to Q3, the number of internet users grew to 40.5 million, up from 39.6 million.

Ø Terrestrial wireless internet connection subscription grew by 21.5% to 36,104, up from 29,724. While satellite internet connection subscription grew by 6.5% to 622, up from 584.

Ø Fibre optic connection grew by 22.4% to a net subscription of 48,040.

Ø Fixed modem subscriptions grew to 95,976 up from 86,139 subscriptions in the Q2

Please note there is a big difference between terrestrial wireless and satellite connections. While they both utilize antenna and a dish to offer high-speed internet connections, that is where their similarities end.

Satellite connections are prone to interference due to bad weather, unlike terrestrial wireless. Also, for terrestrial wireless, latency is minimal given the signals travel shorter distances when compared to satellite connections.

That makes the terrestrial wireless connection more reliable for streaming and real-time application as it has reduced lag time compared to the satellite connection. It is for these reasons that terrestrial wireless continues to outpace satellite connection in popularity.

Where did internet penetration perform badly?

As usual, there is always two sides to a coin, and this story is no exception. First of all, the number of internet subscriptions took a nose-dive by 3.6% to 25.7 million due to data revisions that came by as result of Finserve Kenya within that quarter.

When compared to the same period in the last financial year, data subscription recorded 3.4% surge. The stats further reveal that up to 99% of the subscriptions were through mobile devices; all thanks to affordable smartphones in the market coupled with just okay mobile data bundles.

Which are the biggest ISPs in the market?

The increasing internet access on mobile is of course largely driven by mobile service carriers. The telecoms with the biggest market share of the mobile data market in Kenya is Safaricom Ltd with a 74.9% market share, Airtel Kenya with 18.7%, and Telkom Kenya with 6% market share.

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