Kenya’s Prepaid Mobile Internet Shootout.
Forget all the amazingly low voice and sms offers that Kenya’s four mobile networks have been promoting over the last year or so. At the end of the battle, what became obvious is that subscribers had grown by leaps and bounds but the average revenue per user (ARPU) had dropped significantly. To this end, Safaricom, Zain, Orange and YU have had to change tact and are now aggressively pushing their data offerings.
The interesting intrigue in all of this mobile data frenzy of offerings is that Safaricom is still the only mobile network in the marketplace that has 3G whilst the other three mobile networks are only offering GPRS and EDGE services which are significantly slower. This prompted me to do some additional research to see what each mobile network in Kenya is offering and how much they charge. The results, are as follows:
YU is the newest of all the mobile networks in Kenya. They have a tough road a head of them as all the previous entrants have had time to build their respective subscriber bases substantively. Therefore, its no suprise that they finally (officially?) launched their GPRS/EDGE prepaid mobile internet services last week at one of the lowest rates in the marketplace. YU is offering its prepaid internet services at a fixed rate of Kes. 3.00 per megabyte. The interesting characteristic of this offer is that there is no bundle required to access the rate. It will be interesting to see how YU performs with its offer in the coming months since its a cost-effective pay-as-you-go service that would make it appealing to most Kenyans.
Safaricom has been aggressively marketing its various 3G data bundles for the past year or so. However, at the same time, the 3G data rates have been dropping significantly since they started marketing the service. I have personally been on Safaricom’s 3G for the past couple of months and what a revelation it is! Its fast, really fast compared to any other Internet service I have used in Kenya to-date. However, the limited use data bundles are kind of pricey and as a result one is always cautious of how much internet they are using. As things currently stand, Safaricom has the following bundles:
- 300 megabyte bundle for Kes. 999.00 with a per megabyte rate of Kes. 3.33
- 700 megabyte bundle for Kes. 1,999.00 with a per megabyte rate of Kes. 2.85
- 1 gigabyte bundle for Kes. 2,499.00 with a per megabyte rate of Kes. 2.44
However, the rate per megabyte goes to up Kes. 8.00 per megabye when one exhausts their bundle.
Orange has the widest range of internet access offerings based on its GSM, CDMA, EVDO and Fixed Line services. For the purposes of this comparison, I have focussed on their prepaid Internet Everywhere offering which has a “bundled” approach similar to Safaricom although its GPRS/EDGE based. The default rate outside the bundles is fixed at Kes. 7.00 per megabyte which is not bad at all. The following are the Orange Internet Everywhere bundles:
- Daily bundle is 50 megabytes for Kes. 150.00 with a per megabyte rate of Kes. 6.00
- 50 megabyte bundle for Kes. 250.00 with a per megabyte rate of Kes. 5.00
- 100 megabyte bundle for Kes. 450.00 with a per megabyte rate of Kes. 4.50
- 250 megabyte bundle for Kes. 850.00 with a per megabyte rate of Kes. 3.40
- 2 gigabyte bundle for Kes. 2,000.00 with a per megabyte rate of Kes. 1.00
Zain has been in the marketplace almost as long as Safaricom has. Therefore, its surprising to see that they have not yet upgraded their network to offer 3G yet and they are still using the GPRS and EDGE standards for their internet services. I am not certain as to how up to date their web site is but I just checked and their prepaid offer for mobile internet is Kes. 20.00 per megabyte (is this really correct?) which would make them the most expensive mobile network in the country for the prepaid mobile internet user.