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Frequent Undersea Cable Cuts Underscores Kenyan Gains in Data Connectivity

I recall those days when everyone using internet in Kenya somehow had that kind of optimism you’d only expect from expecting parents – there’s nothing too anxious than waiting for the arrival of a new born in the family, and in this case, data consumers had every reason to be. Fiber cables have proven to provide faster and cheaper internet connectivity than traditional satellites; be it streaming videos live or downloading high-definition videos in minutes, it all sounded out of this world. Frequent fiber cable cuts especially those linking Kenya with the rest of the world is almost alarming; it’s almost predictable that at least after every two months, one of the cables would experience major cuts rendering users on the network out of internet. It’s not just my assumption but a major concern to many Kenyans using internet for their daily chores.

Despite Kenya having more service providers compared to other African states, cable cuts have become more frequent forcing telecommunication firms’ to source for other alternatives such as satellite at higher costs. At the time of writing this post, data firms that connect their international traffic via seacom were experiencing erratic internet linkages following cable cuts in northern coast of Egypt. It’s not a problem singled out on seacom alone as other providers including TEAMs, EASSy and LION2 have at some point experienced the same problem. Now how does this affect you individually – you may wonder; if you are using Orange Kenya’s data service, you may have experienced low download speeds, on-and-off internet connection which the company is attributing to the said seacom cable cut. Just so you know, it’s not business as usual for these telecom firms especially when they are forced to use alternative means. It costs beyond Ksh2.4 million a month to get back-up capacity on these fiber cables and Khs23 million for the same capacity a month on satellite.

Statistics on the number of Kenyans accessing internet especially through mobile devices are looking up, but we’re often forced to succumb to the effects of undersea cable cuts when they occur – it’s expensive, unreliable and on a serious note renders businesses inoperable. It’s a good thing we have several providers now, but there’s no guarantee all of them wouldn’t experience cable cuts at the same time, Kenya’s government should therefore license and encourage more providers to mitigate these instances. Some of these cuts are caused by ships docking at the coast – I remember recently when a similar case was reported on the TEAMs cable, there are several options to avoid such cases that the government need to consider.

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