Mombasa is the place you will experience the fastest internet on your smartphone in Kenya, a survey by global network testing and data analytics firm Ookla through its Speedtest tool has revealed.
The study, Kenya's Mobile and Fixed Broadband Internet Speeds, was conducted in April, May and June and indicates that netizens in the coastal hub enjoy an average mobile upload internet speed of 32.12 Megabytes per second (Mbps) followed by Nairobi at 21.79 Mbps.
Urban and peri-urban residents of Kisumu, Nakuru and Eldoret respectively download content from the internet at speeds of 21.02 Mbps, 19.41Mbps and 13.72 Mbps.
Mombasa also leads in mobile upload speeds at 17.13Mbps, followed by Nairobi at 13.27 Mbps, Nakuru at 12.65 Mbps, Eldoret at 10.11 Mbps and Kisumu at 8.95 Mbps.
In terms of latency - the delay in the transfer of data - Mombasa tops at 35 milliseconds while Nairobi and Nakuru tie at 37 milliseconds. Eldoret follows at 41 milliseconds while Kisumu has the highest delay among major towns at 49 milliseconds.
Across the country, Speedtest ranks Safaricom the fastest mobile internet provider at 27.54Mbps, followed by Airtel at 17.48 Mbps, Faiba at 14.38 Mbps while Telkom, which has the most affordable mobile internet in Kenya, offers a speed of 8.17 Mbps.
"In measuring the consistency of each operator's performance, we found that Safaricom had the highest consistency score in Kenya during Quarter Two of 2021, with 84 per cent of results showing at least a 5 Mbps minimum download speed and 1 Mbps minimum upload speed," says the report.
However, after calculating the average latency for top mobile providers in the country, Faiba topped at 27 milliseconds with Safaricom coming third.
"Faiba is followed by Telkom at 33 milliseconds, Safaricom at 37 milliseconds and Airtel at 38 milliseconds."
For mobile internet users, the research found that the average download speed in Kenya was 22.37 Mbps while the upload speed was 13.27 Mbps with a latency of 37 milliseconds.
For home or fixed internet users, the average speed is 23.51 Mbps when downloading content, 20.16 Mbps when uploading, with a delay of 33 milliseconds signalling a better internet experience than mobile users.
"Faiba has the fastest fixed broadband provider among top providers with a speed score of 23.19 Mbps, followed by Safaricom at 11.51 Mbps, Telkom at 9.03 Mbps, Unwired Communications Limited at 8.83 Mbps and Internet Solutions at 7.75 Mbps."
In measuring the consistency of each fixed broadband provider's performance, the survey found out that Faiba had the highest consistency score with 43.9 per cent of results showing at least a 25Mbps minimum download speed and 3 Mbps minimum upload speed.
However, Unwired Communications had the lowest latency at 18 milliseconds, followed by Faiba at 25 milliseconds, Telkom at 34 milliseconds, Safaricom at 35 milliseconds and Internet Solutions at 49 milliseconds.
"Eldoret has the fastest average fixed broadband download speed in Kenya at 23.68 Mbps and an upload speed of 21.30 Mbps. Nairobi dropped three places from the fastest city for mean fixed broadband download speed during Quarter One," the study indicates.
Eldoret is followed by Mombasa at 23.27 Mbps download speed, Nairobi at 20.71 Mbps, Kisumu at 18.07 Mbps and Nakuru at 13.27 Mbps.
While such speeds are optimal for a third world country, Kenya is still way below Ookla's global average download speed of 55.34 Mbps for mobile users and 106.61 Mbps for fixed internet consumers.
Though Kenya beats the global average mobile upload speed by one point, it remains with a mountain to climb to reach the global average fixed internet upload speed of 57.67 Mbps.
Last March, the government promised to raise internet speeds tenfold by June, with cabling starting from Mombasa towards the Konza Technopolis zone, explaining why Mombasa has the fastest internet in the country.
"The Covid-19 pandemic has made us think and work differently. The Internet has become everything to us, we are too much becoming dependent on the Internet," ICT Principal Secretary Jerome Ochieng' said at the time.
Though the promise of increasing internet speeds by ten times in three months may not have been honoured, progress towards a ready-to-plug backbone ICT network is being made as the pandemic pushes more Kenyans to smartphone usage and dependence on the internet for livelihoods.