Historically when you think about factors that create an enabling environment for business, top on your list would be things like roads, electricity, telephone lines, and security. However, these days internet connection – fast, reliable, and affordable internet – also features top on that list.
In Kenya, the fastest and most reliable mobile data plan comes from the biggest telecom, Safaricom. The telecom that is also behind the revolutionary mobile money payment solution M-Pesa. Well, Safaricom’s internet (rather mobile data) has continuously come under criticism from the subscribers for being too expensive.
Indeed the other competing telecoms have mobile data plan much more affordable than Safaricom. However, they fail in some areas. For one, they are not widely available across the country as most have limited coverage. Then they are usually not reliable, sometimes speeds are fast, and other time painstaking slow.
Safaricom has all along had a reasonably fast and reliable internet connection, albeit it has not been affordable compared to its competitors. So it has been losing the mobile data battle to its competitors, especially in urban and semi-urban areas where the networks of competitors are available.
You would find a typical Kenyan having a Dual-SIM smartphone, one having Safaricom SIM card and the other from their ‘currently’ preferred telecom with the most affordable mobile data plan. The Safaricom line has all along been the de facto SIM card for making/receiving calls, SMS, and getting paid and/or receiving M-Pesa payment. But for mobile data, consumers have been turning to Airtel Kenya or Telkom Kenya; though to a minimal market of users, Faiba 4G is also an option.
Safaricom new Mobile Data plan
The telecom today announced a new mobile data plan they believe will keep them ahead of the competition. The announcement was made on Twitter.
— Safaricom PLC (@SafaricomPLC) September 14, 2018
As you can see in the picture sent along with the tweet, Safaricom mobile data plan is categorized under daily, weekly, and monthly packages.
Over-The-Top (OTT) Services proves unchallengeable
Before the proliferation of smartphones, Safaricom and other telecom operators around the world were ripping good profits from SMS and sometimes MMS messaging services. These days, with the proliferation of OTT services, such as WhatsApp, Messenger, Telegram, and Skype among others. SMS and MMS have become a tough-sale for telecoms to the subscribers.
There have been attempts by some telecoms to fight against the widespread use of OTT services, but Safaricom seems to have given up and fallen in line with the new world order. This surrender can be seen in the fact that on these new mobile data plan, Safaricom will allow subscribers to continue using WhatsApp even after they have exhausted their mobile data package.