Friday, May 30, 2008

Invitation to Tender: Episode 1.5

On a quick rejoinder before episode 2, Micheal Joseph is pulling hidden cards off his sleeve. In his latest invention since "Please call me. Thank You."- my pal's favourite quote, MJ doesn't think Kenyan's have peculiar calling habits after all... or so he says.

Three days after introducing the Ongea Tarrif Safaricom advertise that if you buy credit worth Ksh. 100 during the day, your calls would be free from 9pm that night to 6pm the next day. Too good to be true? Well, yesterday a peculiar Kenyan like me topped up my account with Ksh.100 and couldn't wait for my reward come 9pm.

9pm came and passed, my calls were still being charged! Wait a minute, did they say buy credit worth Ksh. 100 or 'spend credit worth Ksh.100 which you bought that day and exhaust any credit balance which may have been in your account, then...'.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Invitation to Tender: Episode 1

An invitation to tender was offered by the kenyan populace to all GSM Mobile Phone Service Providers to offer a cost-friendly and best quality round the clock network tariff to its subscribers. My verdict... Celtel wins hands down!

For a very long time many Kenyans have had a sort of psycological inertia preventing them from shifting alliance from the ever-so-ineffecient Safaricom network to the more loyal and trustworthy Celtel network. These being the two main mobile phone networks with a large subscriber base in the country, Kenyans have had little choice but to keep up with mellow-dramatic soap opera that the tariff -war has become.

The beginning of this week saw both companies introduce a new tariff each, Safaricom with a ksh. 10/- flate-rate 'better option' and Celtel 'made life better' with a ksh.6/-peak, ksh.3/-offpeak tariff*. It is however a win-win situation, whichever side of the divide one finds him/herself since this is. The problem though is the interconnection charges still remain more than double the intraconnetion charges between the two networks, Celtel being the 'imp' (ksh.16/-) and Safaricom the 'demon'(ksh.25/-).

To me, the battle is done, but the war is just beginning! Watch out for 'Invitation to Tender, Episode 2: Bamba-net vs Uhuru-net'.

*Both of these are 'per minute' billing rates charged by the second.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

KDN to offer Free Internet!

Yesterday, I attended a talk given by Kai Wulff, CEO -Kenya Data Networks, organised by the Engineering students Association at UoN. Yes, the reigning two-time ICT CEO of the year, for the rest of us who don't know. So what did the tough-talking, average build, german-born have to say?

According to Mr. Wulff, if you want to take over Safaricom's business hands-down (as KDN did Telkom Kenya), you have to be ahead of the 'Hype Cycle'. This he described as a recurring phenomena, specific, but not exclusive to technology. Every major new technology has a hype created around it and being hype,its benefits are often greatly exaggerated in anticipation.

For his case, take Wi-Max compared to Land-laid Fibre which is more feasible in Kenya(Nation-wide) for the fore-seeable future. When KDN laid their Cable in Kenya other companies concentrated on rolling out new-tech wi-fi et al in urban areas, taking for granted the wider customer base and opportunities of service to the rest of Kenya. Now they (FON .ie GoK) including telkom Kenya are struggling to play catch-up while KDN ponder free internet for all. KDN is even planning to implement micro-power-grid systems in less urban areas plus have ATM Network Backbones, etc

KDN's popular individual-customer services are Butterfly Wi-Fi (Ksh.2900/-p.m.) and DSL* (4400/-p.m.) for unlimited internet access. Since there are no incremental costs to the company for access, this pricing system is thus unnecessary and illogical. If a shift from the traditional business model occurs, Internet connection, like free-to-air tv should be free. KDN is planning to pioneer this shift.

*Subject to confirmation