Listed telecoms operator is targeting higher returns from its data business marking it as the next frontier of growth, ahead of voice and mobile money.
The company plans to invest Sh10 billion over the next five years to build its fibre network in commercial places as it targets corporates.
Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore said yesterday digging to lay the cables and connect to building will start in January, a process that will cost Sh2 billion a year.
"Because we are leasing from various providers, this is going to be expensive. But eventually , say this time next year, the data prices are expected to go down," Collymore said on phone.
He said the process will connect 60 per cent of its base stations to most of the commercial buildings in the various Central Business Districts in Kenya. In the first half ending September 30, it recorded a a 9 per cent increase in fixed data customers to mark 6,718 clients.
Fixed and mobile data brought to the company Sh4 billion in revenues, 29.7 per cent higher than last year. Though its mobile data customers grew by 30 per cent to 5.6 million expected , the Average Revenue per User (ARPU) for mobile broadband declind from from Sh110 last financial year to Sh 92 this financial year. Tit attributed this to its lower entry price for users.
In May,Safaricom also stopped offering the unlimited data bundles citing misuse by users. Collymore said they will also be pushing more low cost smart phones in the market to drive data usage from the current average of 60Mb per customer .
"Smartphones and tablets are going to be a huge driver for data, We'll continue to talk to more manufacturers to bring in cheaper smartphones. Cheaper than Ideos," he said. He revealed there are talks Chinese phone maker ,Techno, to join the list of partners like Samsung and Huawei.