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Mixed fortunes for  mobile ‘net users

By Semaj Itosno, Nairobi, Kenya

Kenyan consumers have been hit with mixed fortunes from the raging competition among mobile operators on Internet bundles.

Just days after leading operator Safaricom extended the validity of its mobile internet bundles from 30 to 90 days, Orange has announced a raft of changes that would see its customers pay more for browsing.

While maintaining the unlimited nature of its weekly bundle on Internet Everywhere 3G+, Orange has made an upward adjustment in the price of the 7 days unlimited bundle from KSh 990 to KSh1,200. 

The company has also increased price of its daily unlimited bundle from the current KSh 39 to KSh 50. The price adjustments take effect on October 23 2012.

Orange wireless internet customers will however enjoy simplified data offerings as part of the firm’s bundle alignment, which will see customers have the same data bundles and prices across all Orange networks.

The alignment, meant to achieve uniformity, has seen Orange harmonise its bundles and the company will now offer 50 MB, 100 MB, 500MB, 1GB, 5GB, 10GB, 15GB and 20 GB bundles. However, Orange customers will pay KSh 750 (up from Kshs 850) for a1GB bundle and KSh 7,990 (up from Kshs 9,490) for the 20 GB bundle.

“The review and alignment of the bundles will greatly improve customer experience as we forge ahead in positioning Orange as the preferred broadband provider in this market,” said Telkom Kenya CEO Mickael Ghossein.

Safaricom has also been offering a free modem for every 4GB data bundle purchased with aim to tighten grip on its consumers and attract new ones.

Airtel too has been offering her customers free airtime to call within its network and Yu too is known for its free calling offers targeting the youthful population.

Ghossein said his company is already working on expanding its current networks into previously unreached locations as well as strengthening the same in towns and areas where customers are already enjoying the Orange network.

 “While we appreciate the positive uptake of our unlimited offering on this network by our customers, the increased level of investment and expansion that we have already begun has necessitated this change. This review took into consideration the quality of service that we offer to our customers vis a vis the cost of continued upgrade of our transmission backbones and networks,” Ghossein said.

With increased uptake of smartphones across Africa, mobile operators are strategizing on how to reap benefits from the growing mobile data traffic on their networks. Mobile subscribers in Africa are expected to hit 735 million by the end of 2012.

According to a recent report by the GSM Association, mobile penetration in Africa is now second only to Asia, with subscriber levels having grown by almost 20 per cent for each of the past five years.

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