CIO East Africa (Nairobi)

Kenya: Accesskenya Upgrades BTS Links to Fibre Backhauls

AccessKenya Group has rolled out a network optimization drive aimed at delivering faster internet speeds to customers over the next twelve months. The process, which began late December, involves the conversion of all wireless Base Stations (BTS) to fibre optic cable links and is expected to yield more bandwidth capacity by over 80 percent.

AccessKenya Group Network Manager Cyril Oluoch says the upgrade is part of the larger plan to bolster internet connectivity over vast regions and deliver versatile Wide Area Network (WAN) solutions whose demand has been on the increase among the company's corporate clientele.

"The conversion will enable us achieve up to 1 Gigabit bandwidth, up from the maximum 200 Mbps delivered on wireless backhaul," says Oluoch.

"This will not only guarantee better speeds for our clients but also deliver upgraded capacities for more customers," he explained.

According to Oluoch, the move will also see AccessKenya cap licensing related costs by over 50 percent and allow for greater profit margins on the back of reduced operational expenses.

Last year, the AccessKenya Group spent over Sh37 Million in licence fees - a cost the company notes is impeding to growth. So far, about 20 Base Stations in areas including Kasarani, Lavington and Lower Kabete have been upgraded to fibre optic backhauls since the launch of the drive that is targeting to convert tens of BTS' serving AccessKenya clients in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu and other major towns in the country.

Group Managing Director Jonathan Somen says the company is keen on taking services to the clients by expanding its fibre network with the aim of delivering more Value Added Services (VAS) in the market as a deliberate strategy to gain an edge over competitors.

"We believe we are a step ahead of our competition in innovation and we are working tirelessly to translate this into tangible business results that will reflect in our books," said Somen.

The Group MD noted that AccessKenya has in the recent years diversified its range of service offering to include complex WAN solutions such as Multi Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) technology that bridges communication over expansive divides.

"Our entry strategy to new areas in the country has been through wireless networks and over 50 percent of our base stations are on wireless backhauls. Wireless backhauls are relatively easy to deploy but the challenge of translating them into a tangible return on investment is not a walk in the park" he explained.

Somen noted that the company has made considerable budgetary provisions towards strategic expansion plans and is targeting to spend over KSh 120 Million this year to extend its metropolitan fibre network in Nairobi and Mombasa.

The move comes even as the company continues to expand its network across all the counties in the long term. The listed ISP is keen on tapping new business from companies with branches in various towns outside Nairobi and international organizations and Non Governmental Organization (NGOs) in need of branch networking solutions.

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