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Barclays Bank’s Call Centre and CCK’s Internet Price Cap Study.

This past week, Barclays Bank Kenya (BBK) launched its call centre which will serve customers throughout Kenya everyday of the week, twenty four hours a day. The move is designed to give BBK customers services around the clock. As one of Kenya’s largest and most successful banks, BBK clearly wants to differentiate itself from the competition by always being available to them, atleast on phone. This move follows BBK’s launch of mobile banking with their Hello Money service as well as more recently Internet banking.

In other (possibly?) controversial news this past week, the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) announced that it has launched an Internet pricing cap study that will be released in March 2010. The study has been initiated to establish the true costs of delivering Internet bandwidth to Internet users in Kenya by the Internet Service Provider (ISP) community. The move has already met with fierce resistance from the ISPs since they say price caps could seriously harm the viability of their businesses.

The real issue at hand behind CCK’s price cap study is that since the SEACOM and TEAMS high speed undersea cables went live in Kenya, Internet access prices have NOT really dropped for the end-user, even though bandwidth in some cases has been quadrupled for the same pricing. The paradox is that ISPs have seen their bandwidth costs drop by over ten times from what they used to pay for satellite links before SEACOM and TEAMS. Therefore, CCK is planning to regulate ISP pricing if required, so as to have them reduce their end-user pricing correspondingly. This is going to be a really hot button issue in the next few months but at the end of the day the key driver is for Kenya’s Internet users having abundant, low-cost, high-speed and reliable Internet access.

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