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Wananchi plans Sh2.5 billion infrastructure expansion

By Standard Reporter | February 17th 2016

Wananchi Group CEO Santiago Benedit (left) tests the increased fiber speeds at a Zuku Shop at the Junction Mall, Nairobi while being assisted by an attendant.

NAIROBI, KENYA: Wananchi Group plans to invest Sh2.5 billion to expand and improve its network infrastructure including an increase in the bandwidth on the customer access network and a boost to international capacity.

The development will give consumers faster speeds accommodate more traffic and improve the quality of customer experience.

The upgrade is to allow faster two-way high-speed broadband content mainly video, voice and data to be delivered to the home using a combination of fibre and coaxial cable.

“This is to improve our customer user experience and allow for future delivery of even higher capacity,” Group Chief Executive Officer Santiago Benedit said.

In a statement, Mr. Benedit said customer consumption of bandwidth had increased by 50 percent. This combined with growth in subscriber numbers required strategic investment in infrastructure to support existing and new subscribers.

“We have improved our infrastructure significantly and currently have 2,100 kilometres of fibre which ensures that our entire network has a wider reach to cover a larger geographical area and connect more customers to our unlimited internet,” he said; adding that Zuku Fiber is the most popular product with an all-encompassing triple play platform and providing internet speeds of up to 60 Mbps.

The Wananchi Group network infrastructure already covers over 250,000 homes.

According to the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) Sector Statistics Report for the period between July and September 2015, the number of broadband subscriptions grew by 19.3 percent to reach 6.35 million.

CA says that broadband speeds less than or equal to 2 mbps recorded the highest numbers of subscriptions while those less than 256 kbps recorded the least number of subscriptions.

“The data market in the country experienced significant growth in terms of subscriptions. All the sub-categories of data service demonstrated growth apart from the terrestrial wireless service which recorded a drop in the number of subscriptions. This was due to the ongoing migration of wireless subscribers to fiber network by some of the major data providers,” CA says in its report.

While Wananchi Group’s bandwidth consumption has increased by upto 50percent, the price of some of its Zuku Fiber packages has gone up by approximately 10 per cent.

The price increase will only affect their fibre packages. Zuku customers who subscribe to TV only will not be affected. Their recently launched internet only packages: Jistart for Shs1,199 and Jipawa for Shs1,999 for 1Mbps and 4Mbps, respectively, will remain the same.

“There is increased demand for reliable internet connection and speeds. With this upgrade our customers will be able to do much more, in a shorter time such as live streaming of their favourite shows, movies, music, among others,” Benedit said.

This upgrade comes at a time when the firm’s internet solutions are in great demand with the entry of American entertainment giant Netflix into the Kenyan market. Zuku’s home internet services are the most affordable in the market.

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