The SEACOM Cable One Month Report Card.

So, its just over a month since the SEACOM high speed cable went live, connecting Eastern and Southern African countries to broadband Internet for the very first time. In East Africa, SEACOM is gradually connecting hinterland countries like Rwanda and Uganda through regional and national fibre backbones. However, Kenya has been more or less running on SEACOM for the better part of the last two weeks as much faster internet access speeds are being experienced by consumers and businesses alike.

However, one of the most contentious issues at the moment since SEACOM went live is that the end-user has not experienced any price reductions yet, as had been hoped for, or expected. What has happened so far instead is that the Internet Service Provider (ISP) community has doubled or even quadrupled bandwidth on the last mile to the end-user with no price reductions. This is somewhat perplexing for the end-users since it is also known that the ISP community now buying wholesale SEACOM bandwidth for up to 90% less than they used to pay for similar bandwidth via on Satellite connections.

Therefore, in defense of the Internet pricing status quo, the ISP community has been pressing several arguments for the lack of price reductions to the end-user. One is that they are recouping the high cost of connecting to and maintaining links to SEACOM on service agreements. The ISP community also argue that they (still) have costly satellite connections in place due to service agreements that they must run down over time, even as they connect to the SEACOM cable. Lastly, they have also raised the argument that SEACOM has (apprently) gone offline on several occasions in the last few weeks and as such they intend to maintain redundant sattellite connectivity, just in case any other outages happen in the future. I believe this final argument will indeed become redundant when both the EASSY and TEAMS cables go live in Kenya within the next year or so – Kenya will then have 3 high speed cables when they go live and it would be cheaper and more practical then for the ISP community to drop satellite connectivity altogether.

In a nutshell, the SEACOM cable is delivering Internet access speeds that many end-users have never experienced before in Kenya. Personally, I use various ISPs when I am at home, at work, or on the move. In all of these cases its interesting to see that for the first time I can watch streaming video or listen to podcasts without buffering or distortions. There is one ISP I use for instance where I was able to download a large 100MB file in less than 5 minutes. Yes, you read right. 5 minutes! Imagine that! But, I think this is just the beginning. I can’t wait for the other high speed cables to go live and competitive pressure starts to bring the prices down. This is what we all want the most. Fast, reliable, and most importantly inexpensive broadband Internet.

6 Responses to “The SEACOM Cable One Month Report Card.”

  1. August 30, 2009

    Koston Reply

    apart from competitive pricing what effect will the teams cable have on ips and end users?and which isp were u able to download the 100 mb file under five mins?much appreciated :)

  2. August 30, 2009

    GEORGE GOPAL Reply

    Going by the recent pronouncements by the key players in the telecommunication industry, it seems as if we are still far from realizing the full potential of the fiber, contrary to the hype prior to its landing.

  3. August 30, 2009

    Jellyfish Reply

    I like your analysis of the ISP/SEACOM cable relationship. Some people have blamed SEACOM which I think is probably out of ignorance or a hidden agenda. SEACOM in my opinion has delivered what it promised i.e. delivery of high speed bandwidth at a cheaper price than satellite. To prove this KDN slashed it’s prices by 90% despite having invested billions of shillings in laying down terrestrial fibre. So our anger has got to be directed where the problem lies which is with our ISP’s. My first barb I direct to the biggest of them all which is Safaricom. They are rapidly taking on Big Corp tendencies which is sad. They know very well that they will make a huge profit by making broadband cheaply available. It is this factor of widespread availability of cheap internet that will address Gopal’s point. If we are to develope local content and make full use of the cable then a huge part of our population has got to be involved. A few geeks no matter how brilliant cannot make a big difference in such a big capacity cable.

  4. September 11, 2009

    Malini Iyer Reply

    As you said fast, reliable and inexpensive broadband Internet is required. The need of the hour is efficiency. SEACOM cable system just fills the bill right. As far as the recent news is concerned European, Asian and Indian businesses can now benefit from reliable high-capacity connectivity to South Africa. Thanks to Tata Communications, a leading provider of a new world of communications, and Neotel, South Africa’s first converged communication national operator. This will surely enhance business connectivity across countries with faster, reliable and cheaper means of communications..

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  6. September 21, 2009

    Krevedko Reply

    Price will never go down until gov. press damn ISPs to do it. Decades local “businessmen” (as they name themself) used to cut 200% benefit from air. Cable arrived, but old bad habits didn’t disappear.

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